By Devin Rose
River Forest trustees reached consensus Monday night on scheduling a special board meeting ahead of an Aug. 20 deadline to approve a home rule referendum in November.
The board has a meeting scheduled on that day, but attorney Patrick Lucansky of the Chicago-based firm Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd. advised them to adopt it sooner rather than later in case something unexpected comes up.
"I wouldn't wait," he said.
Village Administrator Eric Palm made a presentation that outlined the concepts of home rule, which goes into effect automatically for communities with a population over 25,000. According to a memo from Village Attorney Lance Malina of the same firm, home rule communities have more control of local issues than the state constitution allows non-home rule communities. Municipalities that are home rule can take any action except those specifically limited by the state.
Illinois currently has 209 home rule communities, including Oak Park, and Lucansky said four have gotten the designation revoked.
The biggest concern among some residents, Palm said, is the ability of the board to raise property taxes above the tax cap, but some home rule communities pass legislation saying they will still honor the cap.
Trustee Susan Conti noted that the election of officials would become more important to voters because residents must trust them to act in their best interests.
President John Rigas said many home rule communities have very flat property taxes, and neighboring Oak Park's village government didn't raise their taxes for years after becoming home rule.
Other trustees supported adding an ordinance saying the village would adhere to the tax cap.
"I think that's something we probably want to do," said Trustee Jim Winikates. Trustee Cathy Adduci agreed it would ease people's concerns and said she'd like to see what the added ordinance would look like at the special meeting.
Adduci said board members owe it to themselves and to residents to become home rule because it allows the village to make its own decisions instead of always being at the mercy of legislators in Springfield.
Answer Book 2017
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