Voters in Yorkville will find the city is pondering whether they should become a home rule municipality on the November election ballot.
Officials unanimously approved the measure that will provide an opportunity for the community to vote and have their voices heard. Alderwoman Diane Teeling was absent.
The Illinois constitution denotes that municipal authority is granted as a non-home rule community, or governance acting in accordance to state statutes. Home rule will allow a city to opt to exercise additional powers when deemed necessary, unless state statutes specifically say otherwise.
As part of a proposal, officials outlined their intended use for home rule as a tool in a number of different scenarios, including the extension of loan payments, improvement of the city’s bond ratings and establishment of an ability to opt out of unfunded state mandates.
Alderman Joel Frieders said he sees many benefits to redefining the city’s governance.
“A lot of the people that I deal with in Aurora that are landlords have a lot of the crime-free housing ordinances,” he said. “Those are all really good ideas, if you’re home rule. I’m looking forward in the big picture as to what types of tools we can use to protect the city and the people that already live here.”
Officials last discussed the idea in July 2012, with the intent of considering the referendum question in spring 2013, according to the city. Around that time, the City Council had other matters to attend to. According to the city, Yorkville’s financial situation has since stabilized over the past several years.
In response to concerns regarding the act’s ability to increase taxation powers, alderman Carlo Colosimo said residents can rest assured the city intends to act in good faith.
“I would like to have the flexibility and authority provided by the home rule act regarding everything else, besides the taxation,” he said.
Colosimo noted attempts made by himself and other members of the City Council to lobby for home rule light, a measure that would allow for all the added powers designated under home rule, except for greater power for taxation.
To date, there are no signs that home rule light will be passed in Springfield.
Colosimo said it all comes down to informing the public about the many uses for the home rule act.
Todd Milliron, of Yorkville, was one concerned resident at the meeting who spoke. He said he sees many benefits to considering home rule, after learning of the many uses.
“As an elected official, one of the jobs you’re supposed to do is protect,” he said. “Home rule has some provisions in there that allow you to do that, looking out for folks that may not be able to look out for themselves or hold certain individuals accountable.”
Milliron said he hopes voters do their research on home rule and consider the opportunity that sits before them.
“I think that it’s time that Yorkville look at this situation, besides just a taxation question,” he said. “There’s many facets of home rule that have merit and would allow Yorkville to assume a greater role in looking out for folks and their lives.”