Carbondale voters decision on Home Rule could make big change for city
CARBONDALE, Ill (KBSI) – The November 8 elections can mean a big change for Carbondale residents as voters will decide rather or not to cease being considered a home rule unit. This could cost residents financially as well as the quality of the services they receive from public services.
“Home Rule status gives communities more local control and local authority to pass laws and regulations as they think are best for their local community,” said Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams.
After the completion of the 2020 census, the Carbondale population is 21,857, and below the 25,000-mark needed to be automatically designated for home rule status.
The decline means that the City of Carbondale must seek approval from residents by general vote.
Williams says that the money-from-home rule makes a big impact.
“So, the home rule is about 37% of our budget, a high percentage of our costs in the general fund for all those basic services personnel,” said Williams.
Services such as police and firefighters will be affected as well as road services and even will affect the city’s ability to regulate rental properties.
“If Carbondale loses that ability to collect revenue via the sales tax, it’s either going to result in more pressure placed on real estate or cuts [to] the services,” said Williams.
Home rule authority allow the city to solve city issues locally, with benefits such as improving the city’s bond rating and saving taxpayers’ interest costs among other things.
Some disadvantages are that the city can only enforce laws where power has been granted by the state and grants broad taxing regulation and authority.
Williams says the question for residents is who do they want to make decisions for them.
“I think home rule is really more of a question of whether you want local control or if, you know, as a community [do] you want to rely on Springfield and the state legislature to, you know, make laws,” said Williams.