Lake Zurich board puts home rule on ballot
Lake Zurich voters will decide whether village government should have more control over taxes and other issues through home-rule power.
Village board members Monday night voted 5-1 to place a home-rule question on the Nov. 4 ballot. Lake Zurich voters overwhelmingly rejected home rule in 1998.
If home rule is approved, an ordinance passed by the board states Lake Zurich would commit to limiting a property tax increase to 5 percent or the national rate of inflation known as the Consumer Price Index -- whichever is less.
Mayor Thomas Poynton addressed a top concern about home rule when he said "the direct and honest answer" is there is a chance -- however unlikely -- it would lead to a property tax hike. He cited research from Northern Illinois University Professor James Banovetz, considered a home-rule authority.
"In fact, home-rule status is often used to shift the tax burden from property taxes to other revenue sources," Poynton said. "Communities that have adopted home-rule status have seen their property taxes increase at a lower rate than non-home-rule communities."
But the lone dissenter on placing the home-rule question on the November ballot, Trustee Jeffrey Halen, reiterated his concern about not immediately having details on possible new taxes and projected revenue.
"Everything has projected numbers, including the taxes that are levied," Halen said.
During public comment time, Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dale Perrin also expressed a desire to have as soon as possible details about new revenue sources that could be enacted if home rule passes. Perrin said new taxes likely would be passed on from businesses to consumers.
Home-rule communities receive a greater ability to create new revenue sources, such as taxes and fees.
For example, Lake Zurich officials say the lack of home rule prohibits the village from charging more than $25 -- a limit established by the state -- for an annual fee on video gambling machines.
By comparison, a Lake Zurich report noted home-rule communities Algonquin and Berkeley have a $500 annual fee on the gambling devices. Another home-rule village, Morton Grove, charges $250.
Towns with populations exceeding 25,000 receive home rule automatically, but it requires voter approval in smaller communities. Lake Zurich has nearly 20,000 residents. Home-rule communities may pass an ordinance on nearly any subject, provided it relates to the community.
Village officials have addressed possible resident concerns about home rule, including increased property taxes and reduced government oversight and transparency.
Poynton said the village will have a public information campaign regarding home rule before the Nov. 4 election.