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Shorewood moving forward with home rule after referendum approval

SHOREWOOD – Mayor Rick Chapman isn't slowing down after the passage in Tuesday's election of a referendum paves the way for Shorewood to gain home rule powers.

He expects the Village Board to vote on a resolution adopting home rule taxing authority and jurisdictions during its May 12 meeting, when a new board is sworn in.

According to unofficial results from the Will County Clerk's Office, 1,398 residents voted in favor of home rule, while 1,165 voted against it.

"I was hopeful that it was going to pass," Chapman said Wednesday. "It was good to see the numbers come in for us. It was even better this morning than they were last night."

Chapman said the next step after adoption would be to inform the state of the village's home rule standing. Then, when the village is legally home rule, the board would need to replace a 1 percent non-home rule sales tax with at 1.75 percent home rule sales tax.

Chapman also said the village will soon be starting engineering work on extending a pipeline carrying Lake Michigan water from Bolingbrook to the village.

Home rule for water

Chapman conducted a public campaign during the last two months, delivering several "State of the Village" addresses to different sub-communities in Shorewood.

His main message was that Shorewood is facing a future water shortage crisis because of depletion of the aquifer sitting underneath Shorewood.

While searching for alternatives to groundwater, Chapman said staff identified Lake Michigan water as the best option. But the village would need to raise revenues to pay for a pipeline extension from Bolingbrook to make that happen.

The best way that wouldn't adversely affect residents, Chapman said, is raising the sales tax, a capped tax that the village could only raise by becoming a home rule unit of government.

A community automatically becomes home rule once its population hits 25,000, otherwise it needs to ask residents through a referendum.

Resolution and PAC

Resident Clarence DeBold said he thinks a resolution passed by the village in March helped assure residents that the village wouldn't use its home rule powers to raise other taxes, like property taxes.

"I think it's a credit to this village board," DeBold said. "The economy in Shorewood is good and the board doesn't want to mess with that."

DeBold led a political action committee, Shorewood Residents for Lake Michigan Water and Property Tax Relief for Home Rule, that campaigned for residents to vote "yes" to the referendum question.

"It just goes to show that the people here care about the village and their future," DeBold said.

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