Some Illinois Mayors Call for Home Rule Amendment on Nov. Ballot

Feb 28, 2018

Mayors around Illinois are asking lawmakers for help to put a Home Rule referendum on the November ballot. 

In Illinois, a municipality without Home Rule can only generate revenue through property taxes. If a municipality has Home Rule, they can add taxes to a variety of things, such as a food and beverage tax or a packaged liquor tax. Municipalities with a population of 25,000 or more automatically have Home Rule, but less populous cities can pass a referendum to get it. The proposed referendum simply lowers the population requirement to more than 5,000.

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Municipal League. He explains why local mayors want this.
"To help local communities have more flexibility in making local decisions, figuring out how to raise local revenue, and not having to rely so much on property taxes."
Brent Maguire is the mayor of Fairfield, which has a population just over 5,000 and they've never passed a referendum to become Home Rule. Maguire says he welcomes this referendum because people are tired of increased property taxes and sales tax is another option.
"People that pass through your community that utilize services and that end up shopping in your town that also share some of that tax so to speak. I think it's a more fair tax compared to some of the others."
Some municipalities that will get Home Rule if the referendum passes include Vandalia, Centralia, Olney and Metropolis.