East Dundee is holding a series of forums to inform voters of a referendum that threatens to eliminate the village's home-rule status.
The four presentations leading up to the March 20 election will focus on the village's finances and the home-rule privileges it has used since 2004, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said. Officials also plan to send out an informational newsletter explaining the potential consequences of eliminating the village's home-rule revenues, which generate an estimated $1.6 million per year.
"Our goal is really to make sure that the voter has all the information they need in order to make a decision on Election Day," Johnsen said.
East Dundee's education campaign is in response to a referendum placed on the ballot by state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, a former trustee. The binding question asks whether the village should cease to be a home-rule community.
If voters approve the measure, East Dundee will no longer have the power to implement various taxes or fees, issue debt or raise property taxes above certain levels without going to a referendum.
Skillicorn said earlier the move would control municipal spending and put power back in voters' hands. However, village officials have emphasized that reverting to a nonhome-rule municipality would cause negative repercussions for property owners.
East Dundee has placed a second referendum -- this one nonbinding -- on the ballot asking if the village should remain a home-rule authority. The question is worded to warn voters that if Skillicorn's referendum passes, the village board will likely implement a $1.94 million property tax levy hike to fund its annual bond payment, which is currently abated using home-rule revenues.
"Our main message (of the forums) is just to alert the voters that the village will not be able to abate the property taxes for debt service if they lose home rule," Johnsen said. "We want to pair that with all the information that residents might have questions about."
The presentations will also address how home rule has been used to incentivize developers through sales tax rebates. Without home rule, Johnsen said, the village is at risk of losing planned projects such as a Speedway gas station and other development in the Terra Business Park.
A special presentation for business owners is 4 p.m. Feb. 19 at the East Dundee police station. The other three forums, which are open to the public, are scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 23 at the Village Green condominiums; 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Senior Center at Rakow Center; and 6 p.m. March 1 at Immanuel Lutheran Church.