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Alderman Might Propose Home Rule Referendum

Macomb, IL – Macomb Sixth Ward Alderman Tim Lobdell said the city should consider seeking voter approval to become a home rule unit of government.

He brought up the idea during the City Council's May 10 committee meeting while aldermen were discussing the possibility of putting a sales tax hike referendum on the November ballot.

Lobdell said home rule would help the city address its overall fiscal issues, whereas the sales tax hike only addresses infrastructure issues.

Home rule communities have greater local control over matters such as zoning issues.

They're also granted greater flexibility in spending money. For example, hotel bed tax money can be used for street and sewer repairs in a home rule community. Right now, as a non-home rule community, Macomb can use that money only to promote tourism.

But Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett said home rule is about more than increasing taxes.

"I know everyone's got a fear out there that we're just going to suddenly go absolutely insane and raise taxes because we can under home rule, but there are studies out there that show that does not happen," said Dorsett.

Dorsett said he would prefer to put a home rule referendum on the November ballot rather than a sales tax hike proposal.

Lobdell hopes to present more detailed information about home rule during the next Committee of the Whole meeting on May 24.

Aldermen have until the end of August to decide what referendum - if any - should go before voters.