River Forest to put home rule on ballot
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:22PM
RIVER FOREST— The question of whether River Forest should become a home rule community will be decided by the voters in the fall election.
At a special River Forest Board meeting Tuesday the board voted unanimously (with one absence) in favor of placing a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot. The special meeting was to make sure the referendum was approved and delivered to Cook County Clerk to be put on the actual ballot before an Aug. 20 deadline.
River Forest Village Manager Eric Palm said home rule status would allow the village more flexibility in how it does things.
“It broadens the statutory authority of the municipality,” he said. The idea was brought up by the board in 2006-07 but didn’t get anywhere.
Currently, the village’s authority falls under the authority of state statutes, but communities that are home rule have more authority locally. Communities with a population of 25,000 or more become home rule automatically.
If approved, the village would not be under the authority of state tax caps. Palm said the village would implement its own set of self-imposed tax restrictions.
River Forest Village President John Rigas said getting the question on the ballot is the first step.
When he votes in November, Rigas will be voting in favor of home rule.
“The climate has changed such that we really have to have more flexibility at the local level,” he said. “Springfield is a very uncertain place.”
Rigas said Springfield politicians have been talking about cutting funds, which will impact them locally, and the state’s pension issues haven’t been solved — another expense the village is required to pay.
Rigas said home rule will allow the village to generate more funds. They could impose a local gasoline tax, for instance. Fines for village code and building code violations also could be handled by the village.
“It gives us ways to take care of it more administratively instead of going to (Maybrook) court,” he said. “We could adjudicate things locally and enforce the code quicker and start the process quicker.”
Village officials plan to educate the residents about the pros and cons of the village becoming home rule through their website and informational meetings prior to November.
“It’s about the people telling us what they want,” Rigas said. “Personally, I think it’s a good thing.”