Proposed Measure Offers Increased Protection from Home-Rule Tax Hikes
The Clarendon Hills Village Board might need direct community support to raise property taxes if home rule is attained via referendum on March 20.
The Clarendon Hills Village Board will consider an ordinance at its Feb. 21 meeting that would require an affirmative advisory referendum from the community to pass any property-tax increases under home rule.
Village President Tom Karaba announced the proposed ordinance at Wednesday night’s home rule informational meeting at Prospect School. It was the third public meeting put on by the village and the last one scheduled before voters determine via a referendum on the March 20 General Primary ballot whether or not Clarendon Hills will attain home rule, which would grant the municipal government powers otherwise reserved by the state government.
“Most of the concerns being raised [are related to] property taxes and the ability of the Village Board to raise them so easily,” village manager Randy Recklaus said.
The proposed protection would essentially make property-tax increases go through the same referendum process under home rule as they do currently.
With the announcement of the new proposal, village staff dropped from its home rule presentation the discussion of a possible capital improvements tax that would increase the village’s portion of a resident’s property tax bill by about 13 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value (EAV), or 22 percent.
The village discussed the capital improvements tax at the Nov. 2 and Jan. 18 informational meetings as one of the possible ways home rule powers could be used to increase village revenue.
Recklaus said he does not think that the capital improvements tax will be considered by the village any time in the near future if home rule is passed. If it were considered, it would be a tax that would require a referendum if next week's ordinance is passed.
At the Jan. 18 informational meeting, a $10,000 demolition tax that had been earlier considered as a possible use of home rule was similarly dropped from discussion due to negative feedback.
If home rule is attained, the village is still interested in implementing a one percent sales-tax hike paired with the repeal of the current one-percent places-for-eating tax currently imposed on restaurants. Such a move would result in an estimated $100,000 in additional revenue each year.
While a sales-tax increase could be accomplished via its own referendum without attaining home rule, Recklaus said home rule could provide additional advantages to the village in economic development as well as protection against the state and some of its unfunded mandates.
“Home rule is the only option that combines additional revenue and additional flexibility,” the village manager said.
Eric Stach, who served on the village’s home rule research committee and is now a spokesperson for the anti-home-rule group Citizens for Clarendon Hills, said the requirement of an advisory referendum for all property tax increases cannot be made permanent policy by the Village Board and therefore does not change his stance against home rule.
“Not in the slightest,” Stach said. “Those self-imposed limits can be suspended or repealed by this board or any future board of trustees.”
Village Board members including Karaba said it is unlikely they, or any future board members, would want to make that decision because it would likely be a very unpopular one.
The Village Board's regular Feb. 21 meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Village Hall.