In 2010, seeing the need, Prospect Heights residents agreed to pay for long-overdue road repairs. Now, there are other needs: A police station open 24/7; more police; battling the emerald ash borer. With $250,000 a year from the Convention & Visitors Bureau fund, the city can hire two more officers, reopen the police station to the public and hire two more public works employees, one an arborist.
To access the funds, the city must have home rule power. But Prospect Heights has been mired in mistrust of government for well over a decade. Even those who believe Mayor Nick Helmer's pledge not to institute a real estate tax know he could be gone in 2015, given the city's volatile politics. Monday's council vote, making it harder for any future board to initiate property taxes, is a good step. After all, the road bonds, coming to tax bills in 2013, will raise average payments to the city from $60 to $350, which is enough. Another good step would be a deliberate effort at more financial transparency online.
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Home rule is a privilege, not a right. Many towns don't have it, some have even "returned" it. But a town without enough police and no steady source of income to hire them is a candidate in need. We recommend a yes vote on home rule for the good of the community.