Frankfort trustees no fans of home-rule powers
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent March 19, 2013 7:14PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:44AM
Frankfort village trustees this week nixed the idea of pursuing home-rule authority after an informational presentation by village attorney George Mahoney.
Home-rule powers give towns more flexibility to adopt local laws and levy taxes. Towns with populations of 25,000 or more automatically get home-rule authority, while smaller towns must pass a referendum to gain home rule. Frankfort’s population is about 18,000.
Mayor Jim Holland said he requested the presentation so the board could be informed about options home rule could offer to help reduce village property taxes.
“That’s the tax, I think, people are concerned about,” Holland said.
Some towns with home rule add a local sales tax, hoping added revenue comes from out-of-town shoppers instead of hitting residents.
According to Holland, village administrator Jerry Ducay said that the current practice of reducing property taxes is “asking for a long-term problem.”
“We’ve got no problem now,” Holland said. “What about five years from now; what about eight years from now?”
Mahoney’s presentation was an overview of several taxes that could be imposed by home-rule municipalities, use of the funds, and the procedures for becoming a home-rule town.
After the presentation, Holland questioned whether expenses such as police pensions could be funded through home-rule revenues.
He said although funding is adequate, “If we start growing again, we can’t operate without having to hire more people.”
Trustee Dick Trevarthan said imposing home-rule taxes led to many municipalities getting into “so much debt they can’t get out.
“I don’t think at this time we can prove to the public that we need the money,” Trevarthan said.
Trustee Doug Walker said, “I don’t like new taxes. I don’t like more taxes.”
But when Holland said Frankfort has the lowest sales tax rate in the Chicago area, Walker said, “On the other hand, I’m not sure we get the benefit of the lower taxes.”
Trustee Todd Morgan said he thought Frankfort could consider revenue sources other than those available via home rule.
The decision not to pursue home rule was unanimous. Trustee Kevin Egan was absent.
“What I’m hearing from the board is there is no interest,” Holland said.