Home Rule Referendum Fails After 86 Percent Vote "No"
One voter said the village's request for additional powers was "upsetting."
The home rule saga in Clarendon Hills appears to be over after a landslide vote on Tuesday's primary-ballot referendum kept the village from attaining the additional powers that have become a hot topic since the Village Board approved the referendum in December.
According to results posted on the DuPage County website, 2,005 of 2,329 voters (86.09 percent) voted against attaining home rule, while only 324 voting in favor of it (13.91 percent).
"We have our answer," village manager Randy Recklaus said Wednesday morning.
Recklaus and village staff had explained at several public meetings since approving the referendum what could be done with home rule, which allows towns to exercise some powers not otherwise granted to them by the Illinois Constitution.
Among the possible actions discussed at the informational meetings was a sales-tax increase that could be attained without a referendum. The village had earlier discussed, but then dropped, the idea of a capital improvements tax that would have raised the village's portion of residents' property tax bills by 22 percent without a referendum. Early on, staff also discussed a $10,000 demolition tax as a possible home-rule revenue raiser. That idea was similarly dropped.
Village staff maintained that there were non-tax-related benefits of home rule, as well, such as protection from unfunded state mandates and additional economic development powers.
To show that its members were not interested in home rule simply because property taxes could be raised without referendum, the Clarendon Hills Village Board passed a local tax cap on Feb. 21 that would have, if home rule was attained, demanded a referendum for any property tax increase.
Nevertheless, members of the public—including the outspoken group Citizens for Clarendon Hills—remained skeptical, and the vote showed as much.
Clarendon Hills resident Brian Schaffer voted against the referendum at his Prospect School polling place on Thursday.
“I think it takes a level of transparency from the government that we don’t need to take away,” he said.
At the nearby Clarendon Hills Park District Community Center, Brian O’Meara voiced a different opinion.
“I’m not opposed to it,” he said, noting that the village would have more flexibility with the additional powers. “I like the idea of [the village] being a little more nimble.”
O'Meara was part of a small minority Tuesday. It seems nearly everyone felt like Peggy Quinn, who along with her husband Bernie voted against home rule at Prospect because she thinks the village shouldn't be able to raise taxes without taking it to the people first.
“It’s very upsetting that they would want that power,” she said.
Recklaus said the village will not pursue home rule again in the foreseeable future.