BARRINGTON – Barrington is one step closer to joining its neighbors in becoming a home rule town after village board members on Monday approved a referendum question to be placed on the November ballot.
Also passed was a special ordinance establishing the position of the village board on the use of home rule. Board members said if the referendum passes, home rule authority will not result in higher property taxes.
Barrington village president Karen Darch said other towns that have already established home rule, including Barrington Hills, Inverness, Lake Barrington, South Barrington and Palatine, have agreed to only raise property taxes in response to an actual emergency or legal requirement.
"We intend, as a village board, to follow or not exceed the tax cap," Darch said. "We just want to get that question out of the way for voters."
Barrington village attorney Jim Bateman said most municipalities operating under home rule realize the decision is a moral commitment.
Trustee Jim Daluga, who said the village board has always committed to low property taxes, explained the "home rule question has been brewing for quite some time."
"There's often circumstances that we want to act on, but are told 'you could do that ... if you were home rule,'" Daluga said.
Barrington resident Nancy Rodgers, who co-chaired a seven-member advisory committee on home rule, said the group found that home rule can bring about more local decisions.
"The village board would have more flexibility with statewide mandates," Rodgers said. "For example, home rule could allow the village to enter multi-year contracts and save a lot of money over time or hire police officers who have already been trained."
Rodgers said committee members conducted independent research and talked to friends and neighbors to address local concerns.
"We all know that home rule means no tax cap, but looking at evidence and studies from other home rule communities, we found that the increased flexibility that comes with home rule status can actually relieve the property tax burden from homeowners," Rodgers said. "The village would have the flexibility to consider alternative revenue sources, applicable not just to residents, but to others coming into town."
Rodgers said the committee is confident that the village is in a "sound" financial position and home rule would not be used as a solution to "some financial disaster."
"The committee recommendation was unanimous," Rodgers said. "Residents deserve the chance to weigh in on this."
The Cook and Lake County clerk's offices will now be in charge of placing the home rule referendum on the November ballot.
Barrington is currently in the minority, as 20 percent of Illinois residents live in non-home rule municipalities that would need to pass a referendum to become home rule. Any municipality with a population of more than 25,000 residents is automatically home rule. Barrington has about 10,000 residents. Illinois has 211 home-rule towns.
If the referendum passes, Barrington will immediate become a home rule community, Bateman said.
Home rule information can be found at www.barrington-il.gov. The next village board meeting is set for 8 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Barrington Village Hall, 200 S. Hough St.