Last week in the city of West Chicago voters were asked to weigh in on a matter that is very important for the protection of private property rights. The municipal referendum asked voters to approve a flat $10 real estate transfer tax in the city. The reason for this proposal is to enable the city to have a mechanism to stop the transfer of a property; this mechanism would work as a means to enforce the city’s other codes regarding “point of sale” inspections, zoning, debt collection (water and sewer bills).
On Election Day (April 5), this measure was soundly defeated by the voters by a margin of 70 percent voting NO and 30 percent voting YES.
REALTORS® believe that no municipality should have this type of enforcement mechanism—the ability to prevent the legal transfer of real property. All municipalities in Illinois are given other tools, spelled out in Illinois Statute, which enable the municipalities to enforce debt collection, zoning and building code violations.
We believe that no municipality should have the authority to stop the transfer of a property. Therefore, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) and the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® opposed this ballot measure, and the IAR’s Advocacy Program sent a mail piece to voters in West Chicago prior to Election Day. The piece explained the REALTOR® position and urged a NO vote on the referendum. Had this measure been successful, other municipalities, seeking the same kind of power, might choose to put such a measure on their ballots in future elections. But with the sound rejection by West Chicago voters, other municipalities will think twice before pursuing that.