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posted: 6/26/2014 5:30 AM

Barrington to consider referendum on home rule

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Barrington residents this fall may be asked whether their village should become a home-rule community, which officials say would allow the local government to be exempt from some legislation approved by the state government.

The Barrington board of trustees unanimously approved the formation of a volunteer committee tasked with exploring whether it would be in the village's interest to pursue becoming a home-rule community.

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The group, called the Home Rule Ad Hoc Committee, will report their findings to the board in August, with village trustees then voting on whether to put the question to voters.

Village President Karen Darch said home-rule communities have more local control, which means being exempt from certain state laws.

"In non-home-rule communities, we have the ability or the power to act as delegated by the state," Darch said. "When certain legislation is passed, unless it pre-empts home rule, those home-rule communities then are free to not follow that legislation and act otherwise."

Darch gave a recent example of a piece of legislation on the governor's desk that applies only to non-home-rule communities that would change the way residents are charged for water and sewer utilities.

"It's a minor example, but it was current and we thought the other day that it was another item that said, 'Hey, we really need to look at this issue of home rule.'" Darch said.

In Illinois, every municipality with a population above 25,000 is automatically a home-rule community. Barrington has around 10,000 residents, so it can become a home-rule community only by a referendum put before voters.

Throughout the state, 211 undersized communities have done just that. Locally, these include Inverness, South Barrington, Lake Barrington and Barrington Hills. About 80 percent of Illinois residents live in home-rule communities.

Several referendum questions on adoption of home rule have recently been defeated by suburban voters, with concern about tax increases a factor. Village boards in home-rule communities have the power to impose some taxes without seeking voter approval.

In 2012, Itasca's bid for home rule was defeated 893-704 after a volunteer committee recommended putting the matter to a vote. And Prospect Heights voters have rejected home-rule powers in several referendums.

The Barrington residents appointed to the board are Nanci Rogers, Ruth Schlossberg, Brian Farley, Gil Reich, Jack Schaefer, Andrew Kauser and Mike Tarpey.

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