Why Roselle is seeking home rule authority on the March ballot

Roselle officials will make the case for home-rule powers during a forum at the village hall Thursday night.

Voters in Roselle will decide whether the village should become a home-rule community when they cast ballots in the March primary election.

State law automatically grants home-rule status to Illinois towns with a population of more than 25,000. Smaller municipalities such as Roselle, a suburb of 22,897 as of the 2020 census, may obtain home rule ‒ and the additional taxing and regulatory powers ‒ only by going to voters.

Under home rule, Roselle would be able to enact a local sales tax and a local gasoline tax paid by residents as well as visitors to help fund infrastructure projects. Officials estimate the village would need at least $4.5 million in additional revenue per year to repay loans for improvements to water and wastewater systems.

“If we want to continue to have a well-maintained and healthy community, we have to invest in these kinds of improvements,” Mayor David Pileski said.

Home-rule towns also are not subject to the state-imposed property tax cap.

However, even if Roselle voters adopt home rule, village leaders have pledged to still abide by the property tax cap, which limits increases to 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

With a home-rule sales tax, the village also intends to reduce its reliance on revenue from a capital improvement surcharge on water bills ‒ currently $7.50 per 1,000 gallons ‒ to fund water and sewer infrastructure projects. If Roselle becomes home rule, the village board would cap surcharge rates at $9.50 per 1,000 gallons.

“Without any sales tax revenue, we projected that it would have to go up to $20 per 1,000 gallons,” Pileski said.

The village has to update both of its wastewater treatment plants ‒ the oldest of the two was built in 1928 ‒ to meet state mandates related to nutrient removal, officials say.

Roselle also must continue to replace lead service lines within its water system. The village identified approximately 240 “known or suspected” lead service lines out of roughly 8,400 service lines in the community, Roselle Public Works Director Karen Young said during a previous forum on the home-rule issue last year.

“The other thing that we’re trying to deal with is our streets program has been funded flat for at least the past nine years at $1 million,” Pileski said. “As inflation has occurred, that covers less and less streets, so we want to evaluate a gasoline tax.”

Officials have discussed several funding options for the infrastructure work. For example, if Roselle trustees set a home rule sales tax rate at 1.5%, the village could generate about $5.25 million.

“For Roselle, this is kind of a case of, ‘Do you want to have the burden solely on residents going forward?’” the mayor said. “Or do we want to allow visitors their fair share like we do today in neighboring communities?”

Two informational meetings on the home-rule question are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday and Thursday, Feb. 15, at the village hall.

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