The FY25 budget by Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor is 488 pages long. It is covered with glossy images and talk of fiscal discipline complete with multiple claims of it being balanced despite a $7 million shortfall. The spending in the new budget represents an increase of $12 million over FY24. Digging deeper, the budget shows substantial increases in money obtained through fines, permits and fees paid by Waukegan residents and businesses sometimes surging by 159%.

This new budget calls for spending $245 million representing an 11.9% increase over the FY24 budget. At a time when taxes in Lake County are some of the highest in the nation, a spending increase is unwelcome.

Water & Sewer
The costs for sales are up by 11% in the new budget compared to when Taylor first became mayor. The charges to residents and businesses were surged by 104% in FY23. Unlike gaming and other elective expenditures, water and sewer are essentials and increasting costs hits working families hard.

For FY25, permits are expected to take in 21% more than in FY21. In FY24 under Mayor Taylor, this skyrocketed by 137%.

A 15% increase in these costs to businesses will be realized in FY25.

The various fees charged to residents and businesses have ballooned since Taylor became mayor. This was up by 159% in fiscal year 2023. They have since been “moderated” to “just” 124% for the new budget.

Late Fees
Since FY21, late fees are up 11%. This represents money paid by vehicle owners for city stickers, water bills, permits, etc but arrived late and an extra fee was assessed.

Ann Taylor has never met a fee or charge she did not like. As Alderwoman, she seconded a motion to raise water rates, voted yes on the measure and then turned right around and attacked her opponent over the increase. Now that she is mayor, fees, fines and costs have surged as confirmed right in the budget.

Increasing fees and costs has a chilling effect on homeowners and businesses. It stifles the ability of small business to survive, discourages new potential residents from moving to Waukegan and makes it harder for current ones to remain.

Taylor brags about not raising the city’s tax levee. Instead, she has consistently raised the fees and costs that residents and businesses pay. This is clearly a “back door tax.”

Source: City of Waukegan FY25 Budget