Home Rule Information

On the March 17, 2020 election, the residents of the Village of Westchester will have the opportunity to answer a question on home rule through a binding referendum. The Mayor and Village Board chose to give its residents the opportunity to consider becoming home rule as a way to obtain additional revenue streams in order to maintain current level of police and public works service, along with maintaining the Village’s roadways and water and sewer infrastructure.

Currently, the Village is a non-home rule municipality and under the Illinois Constitution, it means that the Village can only authorize those powers which are expressly granted by the State of Illinois. Pursuant to the Illinois Constitution, home rule municipalities may exercise any power and function pertaining to its government and affairs.  Home rule status can only be designated through an approved referendum or the certification of a population above 25,000 residents. 

The Mayor and Village Board pledge to utilize home rule powers only to the extent deemed necessary with a view to the long-term impact upon the community. The Village has experienced significant revenue stream declines over the last several years, including a reduction in state shared income and motor fuel tax along with other revenues. The Village has cut personnel and other costs over these years and must now address the future needs of the Village. 

Utilizing home rule authority, the board would have flexibility to consider additional revenue streams, ones that shift the burden to non-residents.

General questions regarding the Home Rule Referendum shall be directed to Village Administration at 708-345-0020.

Proposed Ordinance Regarding Home Rule Authority


The Village President and Board of Trustees have recommended bringing forward an ordinance that provides a limiting rate for the increase of property taxes in a home rule community.  This ordinance is being brought forward prior to the March  17, 2020 referendum question.. Click here to read the full text of the ordinance.


GENERAL QUESTIONS ON HOME RULE

Q.What is home rule?
A.Established by adoption of the 1970 Illinois Constitution, home rule shifts greater responsibility and authority for local government decision making from the state level to the local level. Municipalities with a population of more than 25,000 are automatically home rule units, which allows more flexibility in addressing “bigger town” matters such as local financial, commercial and industrial issues.
Q.Considering Westchester’s population is only about 16,500, how can Westchester become a home rule town?
A.By a referendum vote Westcehster can become a home rule town. The Village Board has approved a resolution authorizing the question to appear on the March 17, 2020 ballot.
Q.Is home rule common and are there other towns nearby that are home rule towns?
A.There are currently 215 home rule municipalities representing 70 percent of Illinois residents.  Home rule municipalities range in size from 2.7 million residents in the City of Chicago to 69 residents in Muddy, Illinois.  Home rule villages and cities near Westchester include the following:  Hillside, Bellwood, Berkeley, Oak Brook Terrace, Oak Park.
Q.Are there restrictions on home rule authority?
A.The General Assembly has imposed limits on home rule units by preemption or declaration that certain actions are an exclusive power of the state.  Preemption by the state has included certain licensing powers, pensions, the Open Meetings Act and the Public Labor Relations Act.  In addition, any home rule action would still be subject to all the restrictions in the federal and state constitutions such as due process requirements.


More resources on Home Rule status