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Homer area referendums seek voter approval, term limits, tax increase

Published: Saturday, March 12, 2016 10:36 p.m. CDT

HOMER TOWNSHIP – A referendum in Homer Township is seeking to require all taxing bodies in the area to receive voter approval by referendum before increasing taxes.

The referendum is being proposed by Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, who said the proposal would be nonbinding. 

However, one way he would “make it binding” is to publicize the names of elected officials who vote to raise taxes without going to referendum.

Balich said he would make it known those officials “defied the express will of the people.” 

“It’s very important for the taxpayers – that includes businesses and the renters – to make their voice heard and vote yes to this referendum,” he said.

Balich’s referendum is one of three being proposed in the Homer area. The village of Homer Glen and the Northwest Homer Fire Protection District have also proposed their own referendums. Homer Glen Mayor George Yukich wants to limit the terms of his office and the Northwest Homer fire officials want to increase taxes to replace aging equipment and parts.

Homer Township 

Balich said every year he visits local government boards and tells them not to raise taxes to no avail. 

He said the members of those boards don’t have respect for the taxpayer but his referendum will at least make it a requirement they seek voter approval if they want a tax levy increase. 

The referendum would apply to all taxing bodies – school districts, fire districts, municipalities and libraries – in Homer Township, including the township itself, he said.

He said it’s never been done before but he’s heard from others they are interested in having a similar referendum for their own communities.

“I guess I’m the guinea pig. If it passes then I guess everybody wants to do it,” he said.

Village of Homer Glen

Yukich is seeking through referendum to limit the number of terms of the mayor’s office so mayors will not serve more than two full four-year terms.

If successful, it would allow new people to step in with new ideas, he said. 

“If the same person is in office and doing the same thing year after year, [people] want a change,” he said.

Yukich is the third mayor of Homer Glen since it was incorporated in 2001. He said he would never want to run for too many terms as mayor as “it takes up a lot of your life.” 

Northwest Homer Fire Protection District

Fire officials are seeking a tax increase of 0.09 percent for levy year 2014 and equal to 0.58 percent of overall assessed property values for levy years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

According to the fire district’s website, this increase would reflect about $30 for the 2016 levy year for a $100,000 home for district residents living in Will County. Fire officials said they need additional revenue to repair or replace aging equipment, such as a water tanker, HVAC units and other infrastructure. 

“We don’t have cash reserves,” said Ken Vrba, Northwest Homer fire chief. “We’re bring in enough money to operate the department but as far as making major repairs, we got major apparatuses that need to be replaced. There’s no money for that.”

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REFERENDUM LANGUAGE

HOMER TOWNSHIP

Shall each taxing body located partially or wholly within Homer Township be required to seek voter approval by referendum prior to increasing its annual total property tax levy?

VILLAGE OF HOMER GLEN

Shall the term of office for the person elected to the office of Village President of the Village of Homer Glen be limited such that no person so elected may serve more than two (2) full four (4) year terms?

NORTHWEST HOMER FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Northwest Homer Fire Protection District, Will and Cook Counties, Illinois, be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.09% above the limiting rate for fire protection and ambulance purposes for levy year 2014 and be equal to 0.5796% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property for levy years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019?

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