Is Evanston paying too much for tree services?

Evanston’s forestry budget is bigger than Skokie’s. It’s bigger than Wilmette’s.   It’s bigger than Highland Park’s. It’s bigger than Lake Forest’s. In fact it is bigger than all four combined. Only by adding Oak Park’s budget do the combined five city forestry budgets exceed Evanston’s by a comfortable margin.


 Here are the latest budget numbers by city:

Evanston                       $4,533,600
Skokie                             $805,076
Wilmette                          $682,090
Highland Park                   $887,313
Lake Forest                    $1,503,016
Oak Park                        $1,447,263
The three to six fold budget differences are not explained by the number of parkway trees in each city. 
Evanston           28,500
Skokie               24,000
Wilmette           17,500
Highland Park    28,611
Lake Forest       n/a
Oak Park           20,000
Evanston has long been a Tree City. Tree City USA is supported by the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program The Tree City USA website lists all the Tree Cities in Illinois. All six cities have had Tree City USA status for a similar number of years. Tree City USA status does not explain the difference.  Here is the number of years by city:
Evanston           25
Skokie              23
Wilmette          25
Highland Park    29
Lake Forest       29
Oak Park           25
Comparing dollars budgeted for outsourced services provides a possible clue to the differences. Evanston is comparatively low on outsourcing. Three of four others are high. Here are the totals budgeted for forestry services in each city with the percent of the total forestry budget:
Evanston           $195,700            4.3%
Skokie              (they outsource but don’t break out costs)
Wilmette           $313,250           45.9%
Highland Park    $544,472           61.4%
Lake Forest         $42,635            2.8%
Oak Park           $934,950           64.6%
An article this week in the Wilmette Life reports that Wilmette and Glenview have partnered to outsource tree trimming. 

Villages cutting costs on tree trimming contracts

By partnering on a tree trimming bid Wilmette and Glenview have reduced the cost below what they could achieve by outsourcing separately.  
At the recent budget workshops it was repeatedly suggested that Evanston partner regionally to reduce costs. It was also suggested that Evanston privatize tree trimming. And staff suggested that inoculation services be outsourced. 
The tree trimming suggestion did not get prioritized. Maybe it’s time to look at these suggestions again, before we cut more services to children and seniors.
Why is Evanston’s Forestry service more expensive than the surrounding communities?
What would be the savings from outsourcing all forestry tree trimming, removal and inoculation services? 

How could we partner to do deliver these services more efficiently?