Will Home Rule Be Coming To DuPage?

Will DuPage County be seeking Home Rule? While Home Rule has many advantages it also has many disadvantages. Non-Home Rule counties in Illinois are limited by state statute and the state constitution in their ability to tax and regulate. The advantages to Home Rule is that it allows flexibility on local issues and more freedom in enforcing and passing ordinances. The disadvantages are that it gives options for incurring debt and imposing new and higher taxes. 

My concerns is that the reason the county may be looking for Home Rule status is for the sole purpose of raising taxes. Last year DuPage County cut 10% from the DuPage Care Center, the Human Services Grant Fund and Stormwater Management budgets. DuPage County has not raised the property tax levy since 2010.  In hindsight, DuPage County’s heavy reliance on sales tax and refusal to increase the property tax may come full circle.

While the other Collar Counties which include Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, rely on property tax as their major source of revenue, DuPage County’s largest source of revenue is sales tax.  Currently, 56.8 percent of DuPage County’s revenue source is sales tax, which includes the RTA sales tax that can only be utilized for transportation and/or public safety.  It might sound like a good idea to use sales tax as the largest portion of revenues but it is also very dangerous. In September of 2016, Moody’s downgraded DuPage County’s AAA rating. Crain’s  Chicago Business reporter Greg Hinz reported the following “The downgrade reflects Fitch’s concern (about) the county’s limited revenue flexibility and slow revenue growth prospects,” the New York firm wrote. “(Fitch’s) revised criteria placed increased focus on Fitch’s expectations for the natural pace of revenue growth without revenue-raising measures and the ability of an entity to independently increase revenue.” In general, Fitch said it expects revenue from existing taxes to grow “slightly below historical trends” and generally only in line with national inflation. “While sales tax revenue has growth between 4 percent and 5 percent annually over the past several years, it has slowed to only 1 percent growth in fiscal 2016, leading the county to change its growth assumptions going forward to only 2 percent growth.”

I will be open to all conversations about Home Rule if and when they arise. I will be open to all conversations regarding revenues.  If the county board decides that Home Rule is the best option I will ask the county to bring it before the citizens via a county-wide referendum. 

You can read more about the Moody’s Downgrade here.

You can read more about Home Rulhere.

Liz Chaplin

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