Residents in South Chicago Heights will have a chance April 2 to vote “no” to Home Rule.

Elected officials in the community with nearly 4,100 residents are seeking Home Rule in order to implement a crime-free housing ordinance which they say can’t be done without Home Rule. The city’s mayor says the Home Rule ballot initiative is not aimed at boosting property taxes.

Communities without Home Rule must directly ask voters for permission to implement increases in property taxes or add fees. If Home Rule is adopted in a community, voters yield their direct say over property tax increases to elected officials.

Communities with more than 25,000 residents are automatically classified as Home Rule units in Illinois. Communities with fewer than 25,000 residents, such as South Chicago Heights, must ask voters to approve a move to Home Rule status.

In a high property tax state such as Illinois, Home Rule status for a community can signal a never-ending series of property tax increases and fees.

Notes Illinois REALTORS® Local Government Affairs Director Tom Joseph:
“They get all the power with home rule. It’s an expanded authority. It’s municipal power on steroids.”

In the case of South Chicago Heights, a crime-free ordinance can come with excessive costs for private property owners. In many other Illinois communities such ordinances have come under fire because of a lack of due process, even conflicts with existing state laws as well as hefty administrative costs.

Illinois REALTORS® is working to defeat the ballot referenda. A similar proposal was voted down in 2013.