Batavia is a Home Rule community.
What is Home Rule in Illinois?
The state grants home rule automatically to units of government with populations greater than 25,000. Home rule grants local authority over local matters. Batavia became home rule in 2009.
Article VII, Section 6(a) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides: Except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.
Non-home rule may only exercise authority specifically granted to them by the state.
State Statutes must specifically state whether Home Rule Authority is being limited or preempted. If it does not specifically state that a Home Rule unit cannot do it, then it can.
Home rule provides the ability to diversify the tax base, to govern through local adjudication, to enact local controls tailored to local concerns and to issue debt without referendum.
- What are the immediate and long-term benefits of home rule for the City?
The immediate and long‐term benefits of home rule is the ability to raise different types of revenue through sources other than property tax and to self‐govern via programs like the crime‐free housing program. The ability to create different types of revenue allows for the tax burden to spread outside of the community by collecting taxes from people who shop and dine in our City.
In addition, the City has the ability to issue debt fairly quickly and easily. Being home rule saves on interest costs that taxpayers ultimately pay.
Home Rule does not affect projects that are approved or budgetary spending except for that it allows for revenue options to provide for spending. The main difference in home rule aside from revenue options is the property tax cap which was mentioned previously, which limits increases and the way in which debt is issued. A non‐home rule community must put general obligation bonds to referendum and alternate revenue bonds through a back‐door referendum process. Debt along with a request for non‐home rule sales tax and an increase over the property tax cap are generally the only times that a referendum would be put to vote by a non‐home rule community.
- Does Home Rule give the city government the ability to spend as it sees fit without a vote from voters?
No. Home rule does not provide spending authority. The budget provides the annual spending authority. The City Council approves resolutions for contracts and large purchases.
- With home rule do you need a referendum to increase salaries for City administrative personnel?
No, a referendum is not needed with or without home rule. The budget provides spending authority each year. Salaries are also authorized via union contracts and a Wage and Salary Ordinance for non‐union employees.