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Three Illinois communities say “no” to Home Rule

Accountability pledge by mayor fails to convince majority of Rockford voters

Rockford voters said no to Home Rule on Tuesday, defeating an effort by city officials to take greater control of the city’s ability to adjust property taxes and implement new fees.

The contest was one of three that Illinois REALTORS® was involved where the association successfully asked voters to defeat Home Rule. Homewood voters defeated Home Rule with 70 percent of the vote, and Merrionnette Park voters rejected Home Rule by more than 66 percent.

The Rockford vote was unique because of the city’s size. Under state law, a community with more than 25,000 residents automatically qualifies as a Home Rule community. Rockford, with more than 147,000 residents, was a Home Rule community, but voters angry about their property taxes voted it out in 1983.

City officials sought to have Home Rule reinstated to allow them the flexibility to implement new fees. The city’s mayor pledged not to raise sales or property taxes, and said he backed a recall ordinance as a check on municipal power.

In the end, the promises weren’t enough for Rockford voters, 53 percent of whom cast “no” votes.

The association worked closely with Rockford REALTORS® to get out the word about the dangers of Home Rule. The local association had come out strongly against Home Rule.

REALTORS® pointed out that the change would allow officials, both current and future, to raise property taxes without going directly to voters. They also noted that a multitude of fees could be implemented which would make it more expensive to live in Rockford.