As you likely know, the Village of Barrington has placed a binding referendum on the November election ballot asking the voters if Barrington shall become a home rule unit of government. Legally, local governments only have the power afforded to them by the State. However, home rule authority provides local governments the same power as the state except those powers which the state specifically limits.
The North Shore – Barrington Association of REALTORS together with the Illinois Association of REALTORS (IAR), via REALTORS in Opposition to Home Rule, has taken a position in opposition to Barrington’s endeavor to become home rule. Historically, NSBAR and all other local Illinois REALTOR Associations have opposed home rule efforts. The reason being is that home rule is usually a precursor to increased fees, taxes, and regulations on real estate – including real estate transfer taxes. What is more, home rule municipalities can exceed the property tax cap and incur unlimited debt without voter approval. It is important to know that even if the current Village Board pledges to limit these powers, such promises cannot legally bind current or future Village Boards – they would be free to ignore those promises at any time.
The Sun-Times media group opined on how home rule impacts real estate: “Under home rule, towns have no borrowing limits and don’t need voters to agree to incur greater debt. Such local control is a nice concept but often hasn’t worked well and has been a disaster for some towns. …home rule authority, as it is, must go. If not, you may be gone from your home.”
The Tribune writes: “Municipal advocates insist that home-rule power has largely improved towns, but the Tribune found suburb after suburb has gone deep in the hole...”
Jim Tobin, the President of Taxpayers United of America states: “Home rule is one of the most financially devastating schemes Illinois politicians have ever come up with.”
Former State Representative Harold Katz says: “[Home rule proponents] want to take from you your historic right to make the final decision at the ballot box if a substantial policy issue arises… There [is] no reasonable necessity for people to give up their democratic rights to participate in the governing of the village.”
Over in neighboring Lake Zurich, where they too will be voting on home rule, Village Trustee Jeff Halen warns: “[With home rule] we are opening the residents to a proverbial signed, blank check for future taxes.” He goes on to call home rule a “lose-lose situation.”
It’s no wonder that 85 percent of Illinois municipalities are not home rule.
REALTORS in Opposition to Home Rule is strongly urging a “NO” vote on Barrington home rule; we hope you will take that into consideration when you vote. Of course, ultimately, the decision whether or not to become home rule will be made by the voters of Barrington. Voters will weigh the arguments in favor and in opposition and vote accordingly. NSBAR and IAR are only one spoke in the wheel of varied community interests contributing to the debate. If you have any further questions or concerns, please be sure to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-480-7177.
Howard Handler, MPPA
Illinois Association of REALTORS
** Do you like politics and public policy? Do you want to help shape the direction of REALTOR lobbying efforts? Want to give back to your industry? Consider joining your local association's Government Affairs Committee. Contact me by email or at 847-480-7177 for further details.