“We are against the Home Rule concept,” said Steve Bois, CEO of the Rockford Area Association of Realtors. The organization stated it’s case against Home Rule Tuesday.
They recommend that citizens vote against the power on the March ballot. “What we found was that these communities decided to not only raise taxes in other area’s but also raise property taxes at a faster rate than Rockford and that concerns us, that scares us,” said the RAAR’s Government Affairs Director Connor Brown.
The organization studied several other Home Rule cities in Illinois, and their findings convinced them it won’t work in Rockford. “We just cannot find anything that would support to the level we needed, to make a decision to support Home Rule,” Bois said.
The organization cited Home Rule taxes would hurt working and low-income families, taxation possibilities would be endless, and it would lack fundamental checks and balances
that wouldn’t allow for public input.
“Lack of checks and balances, honestly it’s laughable they would say that,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. McNamara argued at a public forum Tuesday night that he has already introduced safeguards to make the public holds officials accountable.
“We’ve already capped ourselves on the debt and the property taxes,” McNamara said. “The whole goal of this is to decrease property taxes,” he added. “For accountability, I said that you can recall me. I’m one of two mayors in the entire states history that said they would allow them to be recalled, what’s not accountable there?,” he added.
Long time Rockford resident Angela Schmidt supports Home Rule. She argues the biggest accountability relies on Rockford citizens as opposed to city leaders. “I think it’s about trusting us, I trust the community to elect good people who represent us well,” she said.
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Next Rockford, and the League Of Women Voters have openly supported Home Rule. The public can vote on Home Rule on the March 20th ballot.
The League Of Women Voters has a series of forums also scheduled. See List below for dates and times.
-February 6th, Lutheran Chuch of The Good Shepherd (5p.m.)
-February 13th, Nordlof Center, (5p.m.)
-March 7th, Rockford University’s Regent’s Hall, (5p.m.)