It's been over 30 years since Rockford was a Home Rule City. Mayor Tom McNamara says it's time
"Why give all the power to the state that's proven incredibly dysfunctional, and why not give the power to people you actually know, go to church with, see at your local grocery store," says McNamara.
McNamara says Home Rule would allow the city to control its own destiny. Allowing it to diversify its revenue. For example introducing or raising fees and taxes like the hotel/motel tax or gaming machine licenses.
"Few people own a hotel that live in Rockford," says McNamara. "If we increase the hotel/motel tax and they aren't staying at local hotels, they wont pay that tax. Few people in Rockford own gaming machines. If they don't own gaming machines, they won't pay that tax."
McNamara says the clearest example of fallout from the city not being able to diversify it's funding is in property taxes.
"Our property taxes have increased 79% since we lost Home Rule in 1983."
But Winnebago County Finance Committee Chairman Ted Biondo says that's not exactly right.
"The city actually went up 55%," says Biondo.
Biondo says a big reason for the spike in property taxes is due to 90% inflation.
"I do not want to see 14 people and the mayor have power over the entire city," says Biondo. "Explain to us what you want to do, if it's reasonable and there's a way to check the validity we'll do it. It's worked in the past."
Biondo says it doesn't matter what promises the current council makes. Future administrations can override those decisions and break promises under Home Rule. Biondo says it's something he sees in other Home Rule cities.
"They're all abusing that rule by charging more than they need to they're all going back property taxes."
Rockford voters will have the chance to vote on Home Rule on the March 20th primary ballot.