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Home rule disenfranchises Rockford taxpayers

Government is supposed to be of, by and for the people. Home rule is government “despite” the people. If home rule is approved, putting aside for the moment both sides marketing campaigns, Rockford taxpayers will effectively be giving up their vote for or against any future referendums on tax issues, debt or sunset clauses that provide the checks and balance to hold city officials financially accountable. Illinois’ Home Rule is a one-size-fits-all statute, unlike surrounding states, which allow local officials and the community to create a...

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Home rule, no financial panacea for struggling Illinois municipalities

A four part survey by Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies found that several significant changes occurred in home rule municipalities between 1986 and 2002. First and foremost, there was a very significant increase in the use of home rule taxing powers. Additional retail sales taxes were increased in 61% of the home rule cities, and property tax statutory limits were exceeded by two in five home rule municipalities. The study concluded that, “Clearly, taxation has become a major use of municipal home rule powers...

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County sets priority for law enforcement despite deficits

Two representatives of SAFE – Secure Active Family Environment – Joe Castrogiovanni and Mike Tulley, in a Public Safety Op-ed last Sunday accused the Winnebago County board and administration of diverting $1.1M dollars of the Public Safety Sales Tax – PSST – using the money for purposes other than public safety based on evidence “found” by Sheriff Caruana’s in the first year of his term. The sheriff has also alleged that the county has cut the sheriff’s budget for the past 15 years, yet the sheriff’s budget has increased...

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Sheriff overspends budget without prior county board approval

Sheriff Caruana properly cautions that Winnebago County, especially Rockford, is in the midst of a violent crime crisis and that is why the board initiated, and some have continued to support the Justice Center bond restructuring, to provide additional funding to the Sheriff’s Office from the one percent Public Safety Sales Tax PSST. The Sheriff’s Office, however, has not followed the county budget process, as regulated by state statute 55 ILCS 5, which requires a simple majority of the county board to adopt a budget but two-thirds of the...

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Winnebago County is an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars

Last Sunday’s Rockford Register Star Opinion Section included a column written by recent county board appointee, David Boomer, describing his first experience/lesson in county government by impugning the financial integrity of Winnebago County officials. Most Winnebago County officials and staff were disappointed, to say the least, to see the county’s financial judgement compared to the reckless spending of Springfield and Washington, D.C., based on a single vote restructuring a portion of the 1% Public Safety Sales Tax (PSST) to help fund...

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Boone County Board destroys future credibility

If there was ever an action taken by an elected body that eliminated any lingering trust in elected official’s credibility, look no further than the Boone County Board majority. In order to aid the passage of a 1999 referendum for construction bonds to fund a $9.3 million dollar jail expansion, members of the Boone County Board and bond proponents promised voters, and added a clause in a 2011 ordinance, that pledged when the bonds were retired in 2018, the one-half cent sales tax would be repealed – a sunset clause. In March, 2015, the Boone...

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