Mt. Vernon Register-News


October 19, 2012

Chamber supports keeping Home Rule

MT. VERNON — — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce voiced its support of keeping Home Rule during its monthly luncheon.

Kay Zibby, president of JCCC, said there were many reasons the Chamber supports keeping home rule. Because of its mission to advance businesses through various initiatives, JCCC stated Home Rule is in the best interest of the business community and membership, it will keep local control of Mt. Vernon’s ability to attract, retain and expand businesses in the community. Home Rule will also promote a pro-business environment to create jobs and services for the community, according to the statement read by Zibby.

The Municipal and Service Occupation Tax, commonly referred to as the Home Rule Tax, is a legal system for defining the powers which local government may exercise. Home rule gives an individual local government - a county, city or village - the authority to determine for itself what powers it may exercise, subject to specified constitutional and statutory limitations.

Brad Cole, a former mayor of Carbondale and a former Illinois lieutenant governor provided information on how Home Rule began and its function in local state government.

“I don’t have an opinion about the issue... and I’m not here to advocate for Home Rule,” he said. “Basically my conversation today is to discuss Home Rule and what is Home Rule.”

Cole explained that Home Rule came into being in Illinois in 1971, after the 1970 Illinois State Constitution was ratified.  It allows individual local governments the authority to determine what powers they need and what revenue resources they can tap, to provide services demanded by their residents.

Cole also discussed the what those in favor and those who oppose Home Rule have to say.

According to Cole, those in favor of Home Rule say local voters and officials have more control of the operation of local government. He said Home Rule transfers the power from the state legislature to local elected governing boards and promotes and protects the interests of communities. Home Rule also allows local government to better deal with local resources and it helps economic development, Cole said.

He said opposition to Home Rule states a fear local elected officials will abuse their power and that in some cases it may be better for the state to make governing decisions instead of local government. He also said Home Rule has shown a lack of uniformity in actions taken by local government.

Home Rule is an issue which is facing voters on Nov. 6, as a referendum will be on the ballot for all residents of Mt. Vernon which states, “Should the people of Mt. Vernon, IL return the power to raise local taxes only by a vote from the people approving said tax, stopping the City Council from raising taxes through their sole power of Home Rule without your vote? If so vote Yes to Revoke Home Rule powers from the City of Mt. Vernon, in the County of Jefferson, State of Illinois, 62864.”

Under wording of the referendum, those who want to abolish Home Rule would vote “yes;” those who want to keep Home Rule would vote “no.”

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