By Stephanie Malench
During the 2020 Census, the population for Collinsville was certified by the state of Illinois as 24,366, down from 25,579 during the 2010 Census. Because other population dropped below 25,000, the city loses a privilege that communities of 25,000 or larger have called home rule.
Collinsville is required by the state since losing home rule via Census numbers to have a special referendum question on the November 8 ballot that reads “SHALL THE CITY OF COLLINSVILLE CEASE TO BE A HOME RULE UNIT?”
Home rule gives communities the right to local self-government. It was added to the Illinois Constitution in 1970. Collinsville has had home rule since 2005. Home rule allows communities to have bipartisan elections and run the community with the residents in mind, not Springfield.
Municipalities with home rule have more flexibility in such issues as zoning regulations, building codes, regulating businesses, and implementing taxes and fees.
One of the special taxes that Collinsville gets to implement is the Home Rule Tax of 1.25%. This tax is paid by everyone who purchases anything in Collinsville that is taxable. That tax alone brings in $5.5 million, making up 10% of the city’s general fund.
The projected home rule sales tax for 2022 is $5,513,461, or 10.6% of the general revenue fund.
Having the diversified tax base allows the city to continue offering necessary services without increasing property tax rates. Currently, Collinsville has the lowest property tax rate in the area at .7277% with only Fairview Heights being lower because they do not have a property tax.
Taxes that home rule communities are allowed to implement that Collinsville has chosen not to implement include an additional fuel tax, alcohol tax, and natural gas tax.
Losing the ability to charge a home rule tax would result in serious impacts to the budget and the continuation of services such as police, fire, and public works. Currently, the city is able to use water and sewer employees in other departments, such as the street department, and charge the motor fuel tax fund for reimbursement from the general fund. Because the water and sewer departments are funded by enterprise funds, they will no longer be able to use these employees on combined projects.
Economic development in areas such as the sports complex and Gateway Center expansions will also take a hit.
Because of Collinsville’s location on the interstate and home to several tourist attractions, the majority of taxes brought into the city are from tourists who stay in local hotels (hotel/motel tax) and visit restaurants (food and beverage tax). Without home rule, the city would be capped on how much money it could collect from the hotel/motel tax. Currently the tax rate is set at 9% and would be capped at 6%.
Additionally, the loss of residents according to the Census will cost the city in per capita money from such programs as the Motor Fuel Tax, Park Enhancement Program funds, state, and Federal grants.
City Manager Mitch Bair said that the city is planning on appealing the Census numbers, stating that Unit 10’s enrollment numbers are at the highest ever, building permits outweighed demolition permits over the last 10 years, and people who want to move into Collinsville cannot find available apartments.
This challenge will take up to two years.