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updated: 8/18/2014 6:18 PM

Home rule question put on the ballot by Barrington board

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Barrington voters will be asked in November whether their village should become a home-rule community, a move supported by an independent committee of residents impaneled to explore the issue.

Acting on that committee's recommendation, village trustees at a special meeting this month decided to place a referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters to approve home rule. As a community of less than 25,000 residents, the village needs voter approval to become home rule.

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Board members also passed an additional, largely symbolic, measure to reassure residents that they will not raise property taxes should residents approve the referendum. The ordinance states the board will continue to abide by state tax-cap restrictions even if it obtains home rule status. Besides giving a municipality more authority to raise taxes, home rule allows a town more flexibility to craft ordinances and develop alternative sources of revenue, proponents say.

Mayor Karen Darch said she hopes the pledge not to raise taxes will be further assurance to Barrington residents that the village board is not pursuing home rule for financial reasons.

Nancy Rogers, a co-chair of the ad hoc committee asked to find out if home rule would benefit the village, said the committee researched the village's financial statements and agrees.

"The village looks like it is in very sound financial position," Rogers said. "We're convinced that if this is something that the board decides to put on the ballot, it is not because of a financial disaster in the offing and this is supposed to be some kind of a solution."

Rogers listed several benefits of home rule, including shielding the village from some unfunded state mandates and perhaps improving the village's bond rating.

Trustee Sue Padula said she supports adopting home rule in part because she believes the village has the talent to govern itself. She said the home rule population threshold seems to say that population is "the sole indicator of whether or not you are sophisticated enough to be able to make some more complicated decisions."

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