“It’s almost like deja vu, we’re going through it again,” said Rockford resident Dan McCarty, referring to a power that was voted out, over 30 years ago, by Rockford citizens, that is now back on the table.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara made his pitch, that home rule needs to be reinstated, to dozens of residents at Oscar’s Pub and Grill on Tuesday afternoon. “The last thing we want to do is negatively impact private businesses or citizens who live here,” McNamara said. “That’s one of the reasons why we are going for home rule because if we don’t get home rule the only people we can negatively impact are people who live here. That’s the last thing I want to do.” he added.
McNamara vouched for his belief that home rule is the answer to Rockford’s $10 million budget
deficit. He believes the measure would give council members more freedom to decide what revenue sources benefit Rockford citizens.
“Why give all the power to the state that’s proven incredibly dysfunctional and why not give the power to people that you actually know, go to church with, see at your local grocery store?,” he asked.
However some people, including the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, are skeptical of the benefit it could have on businesses. “They [could] come after bartender licensing, they [could] come after higher machine costs or fee’s, a lot of things that would work against us,” said Illinois Licensed Beverage Association State President Jay Gesner.
Currently, the City’s licensing fee on video gaming is $25 per year. If home rule is imposed, McNamara, said during the meeting, that fee could jump between one and three hundred dollars per year. McNamara promised it won’t exceed that. However, Gesner is concerned the next mayor and city council won’t have to abide by that promise.
“In three years, who knows if he is still here or who’s changed, around the 14 people that are on that table who actually make most of the decisions,” Gesner said. “You can change those rules the next week if you want to,” he added.
Home rule is open for public vote on the March 20th.