Collinsville voters to address home rule
By Randy Pierce
Facing a negatively worded question on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, voters in the City of Collinsville will be deciding whether or not the municipality will attain home rule status.
While the question asks if Collinsville shall cease to be a home rule unit, if enough voters answer no, then the city will be able to utilize more localized authority and powers in determining how it will handle various matters as opposed to being restricted by state regulations concerning certain aspects of its operations.
In essence, a no vote on the ballot question is saying yes to home rule.
The placement of this question before voters resulted from a complex set of circumstances involving the population of Collinsville. This is because state law automatically grants home rule powers to cities with more than 25,000 people but the federal census had set that total at 24,366 following its 2020 count after it had been sufficiently higher prior to that time.
When this happens, state statutes require the continuance of home rule authority to be put before the public for a vote. Collinsville officials have been diligently trying to present the facts to the public including how the city can establish more sources of revenue with home rule that could in turn help keep local property owners’ tax levels lower.
Collinsville automatically obtained home rule status as the result of a special 2005 census which placed the population over 25,000 but the federal census of two years ago foiled this by stating the number was less than that.
In arguing that the 2020 number was in error, Collinsville’s supporters of home rule cited the addition of 172 new residential units during the 10 years after 2010.
Collinsville’s neighbor to the south, Fairview Heights, has been a home rule city for almost 30 years, despite having less than 25,000 residents, using this status for implementing an additional sales tax to generate more income.
That extra home rule tax on retail sales has been in place since shortly after the residents of the community went along with a campaign orchestrated by Mayor George Lanxon in 1993 to give the City of Fairview Heights home rule powers, requiring passage of referendum then to do so. There is a provision in the state home rule law allowing it to be put into place in smaller cities if the voters support doing so.
That is what happened in Fairview Heights but in the case of Collinsville, the question is not to directly approve home rule but, for it to continue, to instead say no to its cessation.