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Rochester Voters Will Decide Home Rule Question

Voters in four Illinois communities, including Rochester, go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give their  town councils  more power. 

The villages want to become home rule communities, which gives them more authority to raise taxes and pass laws.  The Illinois Association of Realtors is against the change.   Association President Phil Chiles says if voters approve home rule, they could regret it later.

"The local board can increase taxes. They can institute ordinances that produce fees. They can do all that without ever having to ask for permission from the citizens," Chiles said.

There are more than 200 home rule communities in Illinois. 

The Village President of Rochester in Sangamon County says if voters approve home rule, the town plans to prohibit billboards and add a gasoline tax to fix roads.  Dave Armstrong says a small town like his can't always afford to make road repairs. For instance, he says the estimate for some repairs came in at a million and a half dollars.

"We don't have $1.5 million to make that road right," he said.

Armstrong says a gas tax will help them pay off a loan for the road work.   

Other home rule referendums are on the ballot in Gilman in Iroquois County, Sparta in Randolph County, and Merrionette Park in Cook County.

Bill is a former general manager, economy reporter, Harvest correspondent and Statehouse Bureau Chief for NPR Illinois. He has won several awards including the Associated Press Best Investigative Reporter.
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