WIUM Local
9:02 pm
Mon May 24, 2010

Home Rule Gaining Support

Macomb, IL – A majority of Macomb aldermen support the idea of making the city a home rule community.

During the May 24 Committee of the Whole meeting, First Ward Alderman Ryan Hansen, Third Ward Alderman Lou Gilbert, Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett, Sixth Ward Alderman Tim Lobdell, and Seventh Ward Alderman Clay Hinderliter all indicated they back the concept.

Dorsett and Lobdell presented information about home rule during the meeting. Copies of their "Home Rule Overview" sheet are available from the Macomb City Clerk's office.

Dorsett and Lobdell said home rule would allow the city to address a long list of matters, including zoning concerns, noise issues, nuisance properties, illegal alcohol sales, increased fines for municipal violations, and bonding for infrastructure repairs.

Dorsett said it could also remove tax caps in Macomb. But he suggested the city write the ordinance in a way that keeps them in place.

"I don't believe that this (a home rule referendum) would ever fly if we did not voluntarily stay under tax caps," said Dorsett. He added that's been done in other home rule communities such as Midlothian and Lake Forest.

Lobdell said the city council has shown it keeps the best interests of taxpayers in mind.

"We try to keep costs down. We bargain in good faith with the best interests of the taxpayers in mind. We have cut our workforce back significantly over the years through attrition," said Lobdell. "We have done a good job of being responsible to taxpayers. I think the track record supports it."

Gilbert said he's taken a close look at home rule. "It seems to offer as many benefits to the taxpayers as it does to government. There are some real benefits in there involved with home rule and I would have to support it," Gilbert said.

Fourth Ward Alderman Mike Inman is not on board with the idea - at least not yet.

"Initially I'm not in favor of home rule but I'm willing to listen and I'm willing to talk about it and see where there might be some areas that can make it more attractive to me and some other folks that I know who are not ready to embrace it yet," said Inman.

Aldermen At Large Dennis Moon and Don Wynn did not comment on the issue during the committee meeting. Second Ward Alderman Ed Lavin was absent.

The city council is also reviewing the idea of asking voters to approve a sales tax increase. The money generated would pay for infrastructure repairs.

Aldermen have until the end of August to decide what referendum - if any - to put on the November ballot. They plan to continue discussing the options until then and they're hoping for public input.