River Forest home rule referendum fails
Voters wait in lines for regular and electronic voting booths at the River Forest Community Center. An election judge with more than 40 years of experience said the turnout was the heaviest she had ever seen. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:20PM
RIVER FOREST — River Forest voters again appear to have turned back an attempt by the village to obtain home rule powers.
With eight of eight precincts reporting Tuesday night, 1,079 people were in support of home rule, while 4,307 were against, according to unofficial results from the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
“In this election, voters in River Forest were asked on whether or not they wished for the village to become a home-rule unit of government,” Village Administrator Eric Palm said Tuesday night. “By a significant margin, the electorate has responded; and we accept their decision and continue to work together to move the village forward in a positive direction.”
Al Popowits, an organizer of the anti-home rule effort, said that many longtime residents told him that this was the greatest defeat of a referendum in the village’s history.
“This was really an effort by ordinary River Forest people who contributed their time and talents. We were underfunded,” Popowits said, “and we triumphed over the arrogant public officials.”
Under home rule, River Forest would have had extended taxation powers, but River Forest leaders approved self-imposed tax caps to calm resident fears they would not have to abide by tax caps,. Under the approved ordinance, the village would have had to abide by the tax-cap restrictions.
But a super-majority – five of the seven voting members – could have approved going above the restrictions due to exceptions, such as a natural disaster or unfunded state mandates.
Critics contended the same five could also rescind the self-imposed tax cap ordinance, giving the village free rein to raise property taxes.