Tucked away in Northwest Herald reporter’s comprehensive story on the Crystal Lake Library Board’s plan for a $28.6 million (not counting interest) addition is the following quote from Mayor Aaron Shepley:
“whether or not there is going to be a referendum”
Some may remember that the Crystal Lake City Council voted to raise the Crystal Lake sales tax by 75% (from one percentage point to 1.75 percentage points) without a referendum.
While Cook County was relentlessly pressured by the dominant Chicago newspaper to roll back its increase, not a word has come from Crystal Lake’s counterpart publication to decrease the city’s sales tax.
The City Council has the power to sell the bonds without referendum approval.
Hiking taxes and fees is what Home Rule power is all about.
And here’s an irony.
No Crystal Lake resident made objection, but a library patron from Lakewood. Steve Willson, did. (Lakewood homes are not taxed for the library because it is a city library for Crystal Lake residents. Lakewood patrons and other outside the city limits are charged according the the property tax they would pay for library purposes, if they were inside the municipality.)
Willson thought a new location would be preferable.
The 75% sales tax increase apparently caused no concern among city residents…as evidenced by no contested city council or mayoral races last year.
A property tax hike would be more noticeable that the sales tax hike. It has to be paid in two lumps, rather than nickle dimed every time someone buys something in Crystal Lake.
Of course, Home Rule power can be revoked by referendum.
Below you see literature designed by the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation, a not-for-profit arm of Jim Tobin’s anti-tax organization. It was used to defeat a referendum to make Itasca a Home Rule community.
In an interesting twist, salaries of city employees were listed on the back.
Home Rule can be repealed by petition and referendum.