SHOREWOOD – A question if Shorewood should become a home rule community will appear on the April 7 election ballot with certain conditions.
The Village Board adopted an official resolution Tuesday night asking residents a referendum question of home rule so the village can increase the sales tax to help increase its water capacity.
However, the resolution also included language that stated the board and mayor would not use the home rule status to impose a real estate transfer or similar tax, to avoid the property tax cap or to institute programs requiring inspections prior to the sale of property.
Mayor Rick Chapman said those checks on the Village Board were a result of discussions with Tom Joseph, who works government affairs for the Three Rivers Association of Realtors and the Illinois Realtors Association.
“Tom and I have worked hand-in-hand,” Chapman said. “We finally came to a meeting [of] the minds.”
Home rule would allow the village to increase its portion of the sales tax from 2 percent to 2.75 percent. The additional revenue would raise about $1.5 million annually, which could be used to build a pipeline to Lake Michigan as a new water source.
Village officials have estimated the pipeline project could cost $29 million.
Joseph told the board that Realtors associations generally don’t support home rule status because “home rule power has been used by others to disrupt ... real estate.”
But he said the local associations have a history of working with the village when it passed a non-home rule sales tax years ago. So they are neutral on the ballot question.
He also said the village has alternate options to raise revenues or cut costs if the referendum failed.
“Them being neutral is like support for us because they can’t openly support it,” Chapman said.
However, Trustee Ed Murphy said Joseph showed a lack of care for residents in his speech by only discussing how home rule would affect Realtors.
“It’s probably the most painless way we can do this,” Murphy said.
Trustee Dan Anderson assured Joseph that the goal of the home rule change wasn’t to harm the real estate industry.
“We, as a village, don’t need to put a tax on the sale of a house to survive in this community,” Anderson said.
The Village Board approved the fiscal 2015-16 budget, which came in at 1.05 percent general fund increase from last year to $11.42 million.
Trustees also approved a resolution urging Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly to protect full funding of the Local Government Distributive Fund revenues.
This story has been changed to correct the amount of money an increase in Shorewood's sales tax would collect annually. The Herald-News regrets the error.