Ballot asks voters about home rule

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Close-up of a voting ballot with a red pencil

GEORGETOWN, Ill. (WCIA) — Another local municipality is taking the question of home rule to its voters.

Some Georgetown voters were surprised to see a home rule referendum question on the ballot during this election cycle. Council member Mike Scott said members last year took a vote to get the referendum question on the ballot.

He said making Georgetown home rule would open up options for the city that aren’t currently there — the ability to get grants among them.

Home rule municipalities govern themselves autonomously, which largely means they have the ability to create new sources of revenue streams (taxes), more control over local ordinances, and solve local problems with local solutions. Cities, villages or counties that are home rule can exercise any governmental power or function unless specifically prohibited by state law.

For Georgetown, the benefits extend largely to the ability to solve ordinance issues, Scott said.

“We have a lot of ordinance violations that we can’t get resolved,” he said, adding that home rule status would also give the city “greater control” over the management of empty houses in the area, some of which are “unlivable.”

Home rule status would also allow Georgetown to keep a greater portion of fuel tax dollars — tax dollars that might otherwise go to the state. Scott said officials would like to keep a few more dollars in their coffers to fix local street and curb issues.

Pending the results of the November election, in which Savoy and Champaign counties will be asking their voters to answer the same question, there are currently 217 home rule communities throughout the state.

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