Voters in River Forest will face a ballot question Nov. 6 asking them to approve or shoot down a measure that would give the village home rule status.
But what exactly is home rule?
In its most basic form, it's a framework under which local legislative bodies can make decisions.
In Illinois, there are 209 home rule communities, including places with a population over 25,000 (which are automatically given home rule status) and smaller towns that have approved home rule governance by way of a referendum. And here's a look at what home rule provides:
A home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function relating to its government affairs, including but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of public health, safety, morals and welfare, to license; to tax and to incur debt. Source: Illinois Constitution, Article VII
Leaders in River Forest say home rule status would allow them to find local solutions to local problems. Elected and appointed officials, they say, would be free from the yoke of legislative inertia and ambiguity from lawmakers in Springfield.
But critics of home rule in River Forest say granting home rule status paves the way for the River Forest Village Board to govern unilaterally. One of the key provisions in home rule governance is that a legislative body has the power to implement taxes.
In other words, the village board wouldn't have to ask voters in a referendum to raise property taxes. They could just do it.
Voters Give, Voters Take Away
It's important to note that if a community approves home rule, it's not bound to keep it forever. Voters can put forth a ballot question to revoke home rule status, but any ordinances enacted during the time a community was governed under home rule stay in effect.
And that vote can only take place every 47 months, roughly four years.
- Parts of this article were originally published on this site on Aug. 16. Click here to view the full article