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Glencoe to consider adopting home rule government


Glencoe to consider adopting home rule government

Local Glencoe officials are once again contemplating a shift to a “home rule” form of government and appear set to put the decision in front of its residents.

The village of Glencoe is one of the few North Shore communities that does not exercise the “home rule” form of government. Under the Illinois constitution, home rule communities have more authority and can opt out of certain legislation or mandates from the state unless specifically preempted from doing by the state legislature or the constitution itself, according to Village Attorney Steven Elrod.

The subject of home rule was the main topic at a March 19 Committee of the Whole meeting of village trustees.

After Elrod spoke of the mechanics of home rule law, Deputy Village Manager Nikki Larson presented a report highlighting the impacts of not being home rule with the village facing challenges on subjects including regulations, economic development and financial impacts.

Village President Howard Roin believes it is time for a switch.

“Being an outlier has not resulted in lower property taxes for our residents,” Roin said. “Every day our residents are spending more money than the residents of other communities because we are not home rule.”

While the meeting was held at a committee level, thus not requiring a formal vote, all of the trustees appeared to support the idea for the change.

“At the end of the day we have to let our neighbors decide,” Trustee Georgia Mihalopoulos said.

There are two ways for Illinois communities to achieve home rule status. Municipalities automatically become home rule if their population is greater than 25,000. With Glencoe’s approximate population of 8,600, voters would have to approve it following the Village Board formally acting to put the question on the ballot.

While it appeared the trustees would put the measure on the ballot, the selection of a specific election was not made.

Roin advocated for this November’s election when voter turnout for a presidential election is traditionally much higher than municipal elections.

“I just don’t want us to look like we are being cute,” he said. “The goal is not to throw a fastball past our residents.”

However, Trustee Gail Lissner thought it would be more appropriate for next spring.

“I’m very concerned about people just flippantly checking yes or no,” she said. “If the election were in April, the people who would come would have been very educated. They would have feelings one way or another.”

Under Illinois law, to put the matter in front of voters in November, the board would have to take action by August 18. If they go for April, an ordinance would have to be enacted by January 12.

The exploration of home rule has surfaced many times in Glencoe.

In 1988, voters soundly rejected a home rule referendum. In 2005, the Village Board of the time tabled the matter after exploration by a task force.

There have been a series of conversations at the Village Board level since 2015. In August 2020, trustees reviewed the situation again but opted not to move forward citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voters in Barrington approved home rule status in their community in 2022 and a majority of voters in Roselle and Richton Park supported the switch on March 19.

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter with Pioneer Press.

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