Lemont and Frankfort are two Illinois municipalities located within 20 miles of each other. Both are charming communities with friendly residents, excellent amenities and involved REALTORS®. Both communities have active and responsive mayors and village boards that are interested in working with REALTORS® to market their communities and attract investment. The leadership of both towns are also fiscally responsible, so when they recognized future deficits despite recent cuts, they decided to pursue new sources of revenue.
The Village of Lemont put the question of whether to become a home rule community to the voters in the Nov. 6 election. The village board was interested in pursuing new taxes and fees that they hoped would balance the budget without impacting property taxpayers. Home rule, however, gives municipalities free reign to increase property taxes with less citizen oversight and create new regulations on property owners. Illinois REALTORS® educated homeowners on the risks associated with home rule and 58 percent of the residents voted against it.
The Village of Frankfort took an alternative route. Instead of pursuing home rule, they decided to put the question of a 1 percent non-home rule sales tax on the Nov. 6 ballot. The new revenue would be used to support the police department, infrastructure and could even result in some property tax relief. Even with the 1 percent increase, Frankfort would still have one of the lowest sales tax rates in the area. Illinois REALTORS® helped educate voters on the benefits of the 1 percent non-home rule sales tax and 53 percent of the voters approved of the non-home rule sales tax increase.
Across Illinois, municipal governments are struggling to balance budgets despite some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Illinois REALTORS® is a partner to communities that want to pursue policies that will spur growth and protect private property rights.