Resident honored for efforts to educate community
WESTMONT – After leading a campaign against home rule authority in 2012, Bob Mueller is the recipient of the Citizen Initiative Award from the Citizen Advocacy Center.
Mueller, of Westmont, was honored Dec. 10 with a Citizen Initiative Award for his efforts, formed under the group Citizens for Westmont, walking door to door encouraging voters to reject home rule.
The Citizen Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building democracy by strengthening the public’s resources and self-governance, according to its website.
A computer consultant for more than 40 years, Mueller said the campaign united residents around the community.
“The message was that we already have too many levels [of government] and we don’t want to be a city state,” Mueller said. “Isolationism is not a good policy.”
Voters eventually made Westmont one of just five communities in the state to reject the retention of home rule.
“This issue united everyone,” he said.
Home rule status affords municipalities financial advantages, including lower borrowing rates and legal costs, and the ability to increase certain tax rates, such as sales and property tax.
The referendum was necessary because the village fell below the minimum 25,000 residents in the 2010 census needed to be considered a home rule community under state law. Westmont had been considered home rule since a special census was conducted in 2007.
Officials said losing home rule would result in a $3 million revenue loss annually. The vote forced the village to repeal a 2.5 cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and a one-half percent sales tax hike.
In response, the Westmont Village Board enacted a 1.5 percent eating tax in June.
Mueller said his opposition to home rule was mostly due to “general disrespect for renters.”
“Once people understand [home rule], most don’t like it,” he said. “ Seven people [the village board] had discretion on how to spend millions of dollars.”
“It just allows too much intrusion by very few people... and it’s not a necessary law.