Batavia council reverses course, won't put own home-rule question on ballot

 
 
Updated 8/21/2018 5:37 PM

The Batavia City Council changed its mind from last week and decided Monday against putting an advisory referendum on the ballot.

The question, in part, would have asked voters if the city should "remain home rule in order to pay for general obligation bonds using sources of revenue that require home rule authority to avoid increasing property taxes by $3.3 million (48 percent) ..."

 

With home rule, the city has instituted gasoline and alcohol taxes, and increased its sales tax on general merchandise.

Aldermen gave tentative approval at a committee meeting Aug. 14.

Mayor Jeffery Schielke lobbied aldermen over the weekend to drop the referendum.

"We should trust the voters," Schielke said Monday.

He also said having two questions on the ballot would be confusing.

Batavians for Responsible Government has put a binding question on the ballot, asking if the city should cease to be a home rule unit. State law requires the question to be written that way. If a voter wants the city to get rid of home rule, they have to vote "yes." If they want it to keep home rule, they should vote "no."

"This city has survived 183 or 184 years with or without home rule," Alderman Marty Callahan said. He had voted in favor of the advisory referendum last week. Callahan said he wished state law required a supermajority voter turnout for a referendum on removing home rule.

In Illinois, municipalities and counties with home rule authority "may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt," according to the state constitution.

Non-home rule units have only the authority granted to them by the state legislature.

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