The issue of Home Rule will be on the ballot in many communities in Illinois. State law grants Hoe Rule to communities with populations of 25,000 or more, but those with less must approve Home Rule by referendum
By Sergio Rodriguez
Residents of Summit should support the proposal to grant Home Rule status to give the Village of Summit powers needed to control their own future without outside interference on issues such as housing, taxes and the economy.
Many suburban communities have turned to Home Rule to shift the burden of taxation onto people who live outside of their communities but shop local retail establishments.
Communities with 25,000 or more residents automatically are granted Home Rule powers, but communities like Summit which have populations of under 25,000 must adopt Home Rule through the election ballot.
The option to grant Home Rule authority is on the March 15 election ballot and approving it will strengthen Summit’s future.
It’s a smart step that will empower Summit and prevent much outside interference in our community from the state and federal government.
Our purpose is not to raise taxes on our residents, but to allow us to prevent the real estate industry from pushing housing into our community so they can make a fast-buck by creating instability and change. The biggest foe of the Home Rule is the real estate lobby.
There are many misconceptions about Home Rule that sometimes frighten voters away from supporting the measure. But when used correctly, Home Rule gives taxpayers in smaller communities more leverage to protect their tax base and improve their services.
It also helps smaller communities overcome obstacles to improve roads and neighborhoods while keeping taxes down.
A benefit of Home Rule is to reduce state and federal government interference, and to prevent the forced implementation of programs such as requiring communities to offer “affordable housing.”
Giving communities more discretion on issues affecting their future is one reason why Home Rule has the support of the Illinois Municipal League.
According to IML, Home Rule allows smaller local governments to “self-govern.” And that means less interference from state or federal governments.
The federal government tends to force smaller communities to designate affordable housing for the poor, and often avoid requiring larger and wealthier communities from creating affordable housing choices. That’s one reason why Realtors and their PACs oppose giving communities Home Rule authority. They don’t want the public to have a voice on affordable housing policies.
Another benefit is the ability of Home Rule communities to impose local taxes on gasoline sales, which generally are used to pay for road and traffic-related improvements.
Communities like Orland Park have used Home Rule powers to increase the sales tax, while rebating property taxes to residents to off-set the increase.
The idea is that so many people drive through our community and use our streets, services and patronize local businesses like gas stations, but they pay no taxes for the wear and tear they cause.
Orland Park increased the sales tax on commercial retail goods and then created a rebate program to return taxes to residents who live in the community. In the end, the sales tax hike is targeting outsiders who shop in Orland Park.
Increasing the tax on gasoline and implementing a tax rebate for residents is one way the village can raise funds to cover costs without impacting residents.
A gasoline tax hike would impact outsiders more than it would impact local residents.
The “commuter” or “gasoline tax” is popular because although it raises the cost of gasoline in a community, most often, gasoline is sold to motorists who “pass through” and do not live in the local community.
Traffic from nonresidents accelerates the deterioration of community infrastructure, such as streets, main thoroughfares and even alleys.
Additionally, local communities can increase the sales tax, which is advantageous. Most gas station traffic originates outside the community.
In almost every instance of a Home Rule referendum, the real estate industry used PAC money to block support because the real estate industry is the biggest benefactor of federal and state programs that enforce affordable housing guidelines over the objections of residents in small communities without Home Rule.
Sergio Rodriguez is the mayor of Summit.
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
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