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Kenilworth Puts Home Rule Referendum on Nov. 6 Ballot

Village hopes becoming a home-rule community could help finance a long-term infrastructure plan, which is projected to cost between $17 to $20 million over 10 years.

Facing the need to improve Kenilworth’s infrastructure but lacking the funds, Kenilworth trustees approved putting a referendum on the upcoming election ballot that asks voters if they would give the village greater decision-making powers. 

“We’ve concluded the best starting point for [financing a long-term infrastructure plan] is to go into Home Rule for this community,” said Fred G. Steingraber, village president, during the Aug. 20 village board meeting. “The long-term infrastructure plan is going require $17 to $20 million of capital over 10 years.” 

When Kenilworth voters head to the polls on November 6, they will be asked whether they approve shifting decision-making abilities from the state level to the local level. 

Home rule allows communities a broad range of powers, such as taxing, zoning and licensing, unless exempted by the State

Steingraber says 78 percent of sewers, 81 percent of water mains, and 55 percent of fire hydrants in the village are all more than 100 years old.

In the past, Kenilworth has fixed infrastructure problems when they break down but “what happens when we start to face a multitude of these things in any given year without the funds budgeted for that and certainly without the staff, and frankly not enough time to be able to address these things in a efficient and effective way,” Steingraber said. 

Under the 1970 Illinois Constitution, home rule powers are automatically granted to municipalities with populations over 25,000, smaller communities can put the question on the ballot and let voters decide. 

On the Nov. 6 ballot, voters will see this question: 

Shall the Village of Kenilworth become a home rule unit pursuant to Article VII, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution?

Would you authorize Kenilworth to become a home-rule community? Sound off on our Facebook page, or vote in our poll below.

What Can A Home-Rule Community Do?

The following information is from an article first published on , to help educate Northfield voters on home rule. 

Home-ruled communities can:

  • Raise property taxes.
  • Levy an additional retail sales tax to the state' s tax base, in amounts of 0.25 percent, up to a total additional levy of 2.5 percent. Non-home rule communities are restricted to a 1 percent local share. (According to Dr. James M. Banovetz, there is no evidence that differences in sales tax rates across Illinois have produced a " detectable impact" on consumers' shopping patterns.)
  • Levy a real-estate-transfer tax, but only by referendum. 

Home-ruled communities cannot:

  • Define and provide for the punishment of a felony.
  • Levy taxes on income, earnings or occupations without legislative authority.
  • Incur debts on property-tax receipts that have matured more than 40 years.
  • Also, if a home rule county ordinance conflicts with a municipal ordinance (Cook County is currently the only home-ruled county in Illinois), the municipal ordinance will prevail.

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GrossPoint August 28, 2012 at 12:17 PM
"According to Dr. James M. Banovetz, there is no evidence that differences in sales tax rates across Illinois have produced a " detectable impact" on consumers' shopping patterns" What would we do without experts!

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