Thank you for taking the time, prior to the April 4, 2017 election, to view the Village’s website to learn more about home rule authority. Listed below are the basics in a Question & Answer format. There are links, which will take you to additional resources should you desire additional, more in-depth information. Home rule within Illinois dates back to the 1970 Constitution; additional
resources have been provided, which elaborate and evaluate the use of home rule by other municipalities.
What is home rule?
Currently, the Village Board has relatively narrow authority to exercise those powers expressly allowed by and necessarily implied from the State Constitution and statutes. If the Village is granted home rule status by its voters, it would enjoy greater autonomy to locally legislate any matter pertaining to the Village’s local government and affairs, subject only to constitutional restrictions or where the General Assembly has expressly preempted local action. Instead of only being able to do what the state explicitly states the Village can do, decisions become local and the Village is limited only by what the State says it cannot do.
Why is home rule on the ballot?
When the State of Illinois adopted its last Constitution in 1970, home rule status was automatically conferred on any municipality once it exceeds a population of 25,000 residents. If a municipality does not exceed this population, the matter may be decided upon by the voters via a referendum. The Coal City Village Board of Trustees adopted Resolution 16-14 on October 26, 2016, submitting the question of whether the Village will become a home rule unit to a referendum at the upcoming April 4, 2017 election. Home rule status for the Village would provide greater local authority over matters of local concern. If home rule status is approved by voters, the Village Board intends to utilize its home rule powers to increase revenues in ways other than property taxes and to reduce the cost of borrowing. This has become an issue due to the 2015 Tornado Project, which utilized the last remaining debt capacity to accomplish major capital projects.
How will home rule change things?
When the Village Board was given permission by the voters to issue debt to fix storm water problems in 2009, it provided a Storm Water Improvement Report. Similarly, the Village Board has completed a Street & Alley Survey identifying the current condition of roadways and the plan for their repair. If home rule authority is provided, the plan is to levy a new gasoline tax and leverage the proceeds to finance a more aggressive repair schedule to target completion of the road and storm water infrastructure repairs in half of the total time that would otherwise be required in the absence of gasoline tax revenue stream. The gasoline tax has been targeted as a potential new revenue source in order to capture revenue from all patrons of gas stations within Coal City rather than requiring Village residents to shoulder the burden of anticipated capital debt through property tax increases alone.
Where is home rule being utilized currently?
There are currently 213 municipalities within Illinois which hold this authority. Most of these municipalities gain this status by surpassing 25,000 residents in total population. However, the closest local community with this authority is Channahon (population 12,600), which received the authority via a ballot question of its residents. Other local municipalities to possess this authority include Joliet, Manhattan, New Lenox, Plainfield, Rockdale, and Shorewood.
When will Coal City become a home rule municipality?
The ballot question appears on the Tuesday, April 4, 2017 election asking voters to determine if Coal City shall become home rule. A vote of “Yes” from a majority of electors will make Coal City a home rule community after the referendum results are canvassed and the outcome is proclaimed by the Grundy and Will County Clerks and a certified statement of the referendum results is submitted to the Secretary of State by the Village Clerk. If the vote of “No” is received from a majority of electors, the Village will remain a non-home rule municipality.
Who determines if Coal City shall become a home rule municipality?
If you are a voter, you possess this power. If a majority of those who vote in the upcoming election vote “Yes,” the Village Board will be able to exercise home rule powers on matters of local concern. If the home rule referendum is approved by voters, the electorate has the capability to rescind home rule status at a subsequent referendum initiated by voter petition; examples of communities that have done this are Lisle, Lombard, Rockford and Villa Park. Home rule does not change the terms or the electing of the Mayor or local trustees. Each of the elected officials is up for election or re-election every four years and may be held to account if voters are unhappy with their performance or utilization of this authority. The ability to determine home rule authority is limited. If a majority of the electorate determines “No,” this matter cannot appear on the ballot for another 48 months.