Homer area officials uncertain about referendum impact Balich: ‘There’s going to be a groundswell coming’
HOMER TOWNSHIP – Will County Board member Steve Balich’s advisory referendum for Homer Township received overwhelming support in the March 15 general primary election but some local officials say it will have little effect on them.
Balich, R-Homer Glen, proposed an advisory referendum requiring all taxing bodies in Homer Township receive voter approval by referendum before increasing taxes.
The referendum was approved 9,358 to 1,373.
“It was real clear people were fed up,” Balich said of the vote.
Even though the referendum is not binding, Balich has said he would make it “binding” by publishing the names of elected officials who defy the “express will of the people” in newspapers and social media, he stated in a letter to The Herald-News.
However, some local officials were either uncertain of the impact of the referendum or said it wouldn’t have any effect.
Homer Glen Village Mayor George Yukich said the referendum is not binding and it wouldn’t affect the village.
According to the village’s website, it has not levied for property taxes since it was incorporated in 2001.
“I don’t know if it’s going to work or not for him,” Yukich said.
Ken Vrba, Northwest Homer fire chief, said Balich’s referendum wouldn’t affect his fire district because its own referendum approved March 16 for a tax rate increase was “locked in” for the next several years.
“We wouldn’t be going for the [tax levy] increase anyway,” Vrba said.
The Northwest Homer Fire and Ambulance Protection District referendum sought a tax increase of 0.09 percent for levy year 2014 and equal to 0.58 percent of overall assessed property values for levy years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The proposal passed 2,276 to 2,202.
Homer Township Supervisor Pam Meyers said township officials will always give people a voice on tax levies and they always make financial documents available for public inspection.
She said a tax levy increase doesn’t mean taxes will increase.
“A levy request is really just an estimate. You could actually not increase the levy from one year to another … and taxes could go up, because they’re based on the assessed values of the community,” she said, referring to overall assessed property values.
Balich said he plans on visiting taxing bodies in Homer Township to explain the referendum.
He said people in Wheatland and Washington townships in Will County, Chicago’s 19th Ward, Schaumburg and Plainfield have contacted him about having a similar referendum for their areas.