The question of home rule has come back to haunt River Forest residents. Two village board trustees were quoted in the local press as being supportive of the imposition of home rule for our community. This despite the fact that only five years ago, after a thorough discussion and public debate, the voters rejected home rule by a landslide vote of 79.6% (the greatest defeat ever accorded a referendum in our community). What is it that voters then knew that some of our elected officials have yet to learn?
First, home rule would turn River Forest residents into “political eunuchs” in that elected officials could spend money on local projects without voter consent, i.e. without a referendum. How ironic it would be if RF’s highly educated and credentialed population were shut out of the decision-making process.
Second, home rule is not about local versus state control, but rather about government versus citizens’ control. It should be pointed out that with home rule there are no limits on real estate taxes levied. Home rule units are exempted from complying with tax caps imposed by the state on the annual rate of increase in local property taxes.
Third, the voters of Rockford tried and abolished home rule. They did so after the city council enacted a series of property tax increases. The success of local governments has always depended on the quality of elected leaders, but the stakes are much higher in home rule units.
Now is the time to call your trustees and tell them “No.” Later may simply be too late.