What is “home rule” and what does it have to do with Batavia? Why should we put it to referendum?
Ballot question: Shall the City of Batavia cease to be a home rule unit?
Right now, Batavia is a “home rule” community by virtue of having at least 25,000 residents. Home rule gives the City nearly unlimited power to tax, regulate, and incur debt. Home rule can be removed by referendum.
Home rule takes away state-imposed tax caps, allowing the City to raise property taxes without limit and without asking the citizens through referendum. It allows the City to create almost as many new taxes as it can imagine: sales tax, gas tax, liquor tax, soda tax, hotel tax, service tax, transfer tax, use tax, etc. It allows for the creation of a Stormwater Utility that would charge residents (including tax-exempt properties like churches and schools) fees based on impermeable surface area (buildings, driveways, parking lots, etc.). (A Stormwater Utility has resurfaced for discussion repeatedly since 2014.)
It gives the City power to regulate things like inspections (and accompanying fees) on apartment buildings, even small, converted homes, and can prevent the sale of “as-is” properties.
Home rule takes away the citizens’ power to put major bonding issues to referendum (like the $14 million in General Obligation bonds the City plans to issue for the massive 186-unit apartment complex it wants to build downtown). With home rule, the City Council can borrow and spend at will (anything short of 40 yr bonds), and the citizens cannot put together a referendum to stop it.
The City will argue home rule is beneficial in that it gives them more flexibility and autonomy in finance and government.
Others of us argue that it is too much power without citizen oversight or recourse.
Let’s put it to referendum to have the discussion, and ultimately let the people decide whether or not Batavia should be a home rule unit.
Would you please help get a referendum on the April 4 ballot? We need 1200 signatures by Dec. 31. Click here for a petition sheet that you can print out. It would be great if everyone who reads this could fill just one sheet with 15 signatures. But if all you can manage is one (your own) that will be 1 more toward the 1200. If you can do more and talk to your neighbors, go door to door, or stand outside the library, that would be fantastic. There are more detailed instructions for collecting signatures here. (The ultra-condensed version: the signers must be registered to vote in the City of Batavia, and the gatherer must witness all signatures and sign the bottom of the sheet in front of a notary.)
Completed, notarized petitions can be dropped off or mailed to Sylvia Keppel, 1420 Becker Ave., Batavia, IL 60510 (the SE quadrant of Batavia, near Fermilab and Hoover Wood School), or pickup can be arranged through the Contact Us page.
The sheets don’t have to have all the signature spaces filled. Even 1 signature per sheet is valid. DO NOT NUMBER THE SHEETS.
Petitions need to be received by December 31.
Please take the time to help. This needs to be a widespread effort to succeed, with everyone doing their part. 1200 signatures in just over 2 weeks is too much for 1 or 2 people to do. We need you. Please, if you can, return at least 1 sheet of 15 signatures. That would go a long way.
Here are some links for more information on home rule:
There are multiple articles on this site: http://www.taxpayersunitedofamerica.org/home-rule