Kenilworth Home Rule
Driving through Kenilworth today I saw lots of yard signs -and I don't mean the Romney or Obama ones. They were simple white signs that proclaimed whether the homeowner was for or against home rule for the village of Kenilworth.
There is a lot of discussion, disagreement, and misunderstanding when it comes to home rule.
For help in understanding the issues, residents can attend one of the two open houses that the village is hosting this week and next at the Kenilworth Village Hall. The meetings are informal and without an agenda - the point is for residents to ask any questions they have on the subject.
The remaining two open houses will be held:
Monday, November 5 - 5:30 to 7:30 pm
And what is Home Rule? Home Rule takes government decision making from the state level to the local level. Towns that are larger than 25,000 are automatically home-rule municipalities - towns smaller than that must pass home rule by referendum. Local authorities would have more leeway in raising fees and taxes - and to have greater flexibility in handling local matters.
Why does Kenilworth want to become a Home Rule municipality? Primarily to better control the inflow of revenue by shifting it from property taxes to bonds and by adding other components such as a real estate transfer tax or by increasing the small commercial corridor. Currently, Kenilworth is faced with $20 million in infrastructure repairs that the village says it needs to fund very soon.
I spoke to one resident who gave me perhaps the single most succinct reason to vote yes on the referendum: he didn't want Springfield involved with anything in Kenilworth. Considering the dire financial straits of the state of Illinois, who could blame him.
Most opponents argue that their taxes will be raised arbitrarily, an argument that proponents say is a misconception. Others feel that too much power will be in the hands of too few people. Again, proponents say that any additional spending (except emergencies) will be put to a referendum.
There are many sources of more information and discussion online including:
Village of Kenilworth Home Rule Site (many additional links on this page)
Kenilworth Home Rule (Citizens for Home Rule)