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Homer Glen asks voters if he’ll try to dissolve the district


On the March 19 ballot, Homer Glen residents will be asked whether the village should pursue efforts to potentially dissolve or halt county government; Supporters say the move would be the first step in eliminating layers of government and duplicative services and saving taxpayers money.

“This is a local advisory opinion on public policy,” village attorney Michael Pasquinelli said. “There is no legal consequence whether this is accepted or rejected by the voters,” he said.

Mayor Christina Neitzke-Troike said the referendum is not binding, but rather will gauge residents’ feelings and provide direction to the Village Board.

If the referendum were to pass, it would show residents are interested in eliminating one layer of government, Neitzke-Troike said, noting that Illinois has three times as many branches of government as other states.

He said other elected officials are watching Homer Glen and the village could lead the way.

“If citizens vote yes, this will put pressure on all tax bodies,” Neitzke-Troike said. “Citizens are fed up. We can’t afford it anymore. If residents say, ‘Yes, get rid of the taxing agencies we don’t need,’ that would mean a lot.”

Homer Glen makes up about 62% of the county, while Lockport makes up about 30%. About 6.8% of the county is unincorporated area, with just over 1% being the combination of New Lenox and Lemont.

Homer Township collects $1.94 million in taxes, including taxes collected by the highway department, Homer Glen treasurer John Sawyers said. Homer Glen residents paid the county about $1.2 million of that, he said.

A home valued at about $375,000 pays about $169 in property taxes to Homer Township based on 2022 tax rates, Sawyers said.

Neitzke-Troike said Homer Glen residents are paying for county services they don’t receive.

“It was never proposed that this would benefit us as a village in any way,” Neitzke-Troike said. “This was proposed to save residents money. “We need to provide tax relief to citizens,” he said.

Homer Township offices in Homer Glen. (Brett Johnson/Daily Southtown)

But Homer Town Supervisor Steve Balich said the town offers a variety of services to its residents.

The town maintains some of the trails used by Homer Glen residents, maintains the open space and dog park, has a medical supply closet for borrowing walkers, shower chairs, crutches and other items, offers services for the elderly and plans senior fairs and similar events. “a pet expo,” he said.

The district is also working on plans for a civic center that, when completed, would provide after-school programs, gardening programs and recreational opportunities for individuals with special needs, Balich said.

“Are we going to rule out Homer Glen? “No,” Balich said.

Balich said Homer Township operates at low cost and is connected to people, and residents turn to township officials when they need help with a variety of problems.

Complicating the referendum, Balich said, is that Homer Township serves a larger area than Homer Glen, but only Homer Glen residents will be able to see the question on the ballot.

Supporters of the referendum said the district was more necessary before the village was incorporated in 2001.

Neitzke-Troike said residents are paying for duplicate services.

The village’s Skills Awareness Committee also has a medical cabinet and the village offers services for the elderly, he said.

Bay took control of many parksHe said it was within the boundaries the district used to protect. But the county preserved open space properties that provide income through rentals to farmers in the area.

Homer Glen a few years ago took over maintenance 130 miles of roads as well as equipment from the Homer Township Road District when it established the Public Works Department. Neitzke-Troike said the village could explore the approximately 18 miles of road currently under the jurisdiction of the county road district by adding it to its system.

It costs about $12,100 per mile in taxes to maintain the Homer Glen Department of Public Works’ 130 miles of roads, while the Homer Township Road District costs about $44,000 per mile to maintain its 28 miles of roads, Sawyers said.

Homer Township Road Commissioner Brent Porfilio disputes those numbers. He said the 18.5 miles of county roads cost the county about $43,000 per mile. But when village expenses from all funds used to support roads, sidewalks, sewers, lighting, curbs, gutters and other work on the right-of-way are included, Homer Glen spends about $53,000 per mile, he said.

Porfilio said the county’s road district is able to operate more efficiently, employs two people, has better equipment and uses better road salt in the winter. All inspections for engineering and construction projects are performed by Porfilio, an engineer with Illinois Department of Transportation construction inspection certification, at no additional cost to taxpayers.

He said that it was not possible for him to transfer the 18.5 mile long road to the village due to his efficient work.

“It is not cheaper for taxpayers to dissolve the town,” Porfilio said. “People living in areas without legal entity do not want to be in villages. They had more than 20 years to (annex). “They don’t want taxes or regulations.”

Neitzke-Troike said unincorporated areas would not be annexed by force.

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization that advocates for improving laws and regulations affecting Illinois, the General Assembly should grant specific authority only to a county or municipality that wishes to dissolve a county.

Neitzke-Troike said the Illinois General Assembly has granted some authority to consolidate or dissolve local government units.

In 2013, a law was created that allowed the Town of Evanston to dissolve, and a separate law was also created that allowed the DuPage County Board to dissolve or merge various government units. In 2016, another law allowed McHenry and Lake counties to dissolve their units of government, and Belleville was also given the authority to dissolve its county.

The village of Homer Glen spent about $4,050 in legal fees to investigate the referendum.

Neitzke-Troike said she wants to work on various ways to reduce residents’ taxes if the referendum is passed.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.


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