Savoy Citizens for Home Rule
TWENTY-THREE QUESTIONS ... REGARDING HOME RULE FOR SAVOY
TWENTY-THREE QUESTIONS ... REGARDING HOME RULE FOR SAVOY
QUESTION #1: What does “Home Rule” status mean?
ANSWER: “Home Rule” is a designation for local governments that was established by the 1970 Illinois Constitution. Home Rule transfers the authority over municipal matters from state laws to a local charter that is drafted, adopted, and amended by the municipality. It gives a local government like the Village of Savoy the power to self-govern and come up with local solutions to its own local issues and problems – instead of the authority only coming from the Illinois legislature. Click here for more information from the Illinois Municipal League.
QUESTION #2: Why is the Village asking the voters for permission to obtain “Home Rule” status?
ANSWER: Home Rule authority is granted to towns of populations under 25,000 only if it is approved by a voter referendum. The Savoy Village Board is asking the voters to decide on Home Rule authority during the April 6, 2021 Consolidated Election.
To request a "Vote By Mail" Ballot, click here. (The last day to request a mail-in ballot is April 1, 2021.)
QUESTION #3: Are there any other towns nearby that already have “Home Rule” status?
ANSWER: These local towns already have Home Rule status: Champaign, Urbana, Bloomington, Decatur, Rantoul, Tuscola, and Danville.
QUESTION #4: How many towns in Illinois have “Home Rule” status and how many of them have received it by voter approval?
ANSWER: The Illinois Municipal League reports that there are 217 Home Rule municipalities in Illinois. Currently, 148 municipalities (which is 68% of them) received Home Rule status via voter approval in a referendum. To see the list of Illinois Home Rule municipalities, click here.
QUESTION #5: If the Village gets Home Rule status, will my Village property taxes go up?
ANSWER: Page 29 of Chapter 2 of the Illinois Municipal League’s 2018 Municipal Handbook reports that real estate taxes tend to decrease or increase at a slower rate for Home Rule communities because Home Rule communities can tap other sources of funding - besides real estate taxation. In the end, the answer is yes ...it is possible that the Village Board could vote to raise (or lower) property taxes; however, there are many other factors that come into play when it weighs that decision.
QUESTION #6: The answer above refers to “other sources of funding”. What could that mean for Savoy residents?
ANSWER: One possible source of new revenue for the Village would be a Local Gasoline Tax, which can only be imposed by Home Rule communities. This gas tax would be over and above the current state Motor Fuel Tax that you are already paying at the pump.
QUESTION #7: Do any other local Home Rule towns already charge a Local Gasoline Tax?
ANSWER: Yes, many of them do. The City of Champaign currently charges 4 cents per gallon. Bloomington charges 8 cents per gallon. Decatur, Rantoul, Danville and Urbana all currently charge 5 cents per gallon.
QUESTION #8: If approved, what would Savoy’s Local Gasoline Tax be?
ANSWER: The Village Board has not made that policy decision yet; however, it should likely be similar to what other local towns charge, in order to keep Savoy’s gasoline prices competitive.
QUESTION #9: If the Savoy Village Board would approve a 4 cent per gallon gasoline tax like Champaign’s, what would be the increase in my cost at the pump?
ANSWER: Assuming the local gasoline price is $2.70 per gallon before the tax, a 4-cent increase would take the cost to $2.74 per gallon. That would be a 1.5% increase in cost. For a 15-gallon complete fill-up from empty, your total cost at the pump would go up 60 cents, from $40.50 to $41.10.
QUESTION #10: How do current gasoline prices in Savoy compare to those in nearby towns?
ANSWER: According to “gasbuddy.com”, recent gasoline prices in Savoy have tended to be about the same or sometimes lower than those in Champaign and Urbana. In addition, Savoy’s gasoline prices are often lower than those in the small towns outside of Savoy.
QUESTION #11: Could Savoy raise the Local Gasoline Tax even more in the future?
ANSWER: The Illinois Constitution allows a Home Rule community to set this tax rate at any rate it wishes. In all likelihood, it should reflect local market conditions; otherwise, if raised too high, motorists would purchase their gasoline elsewhere.
QUESTION #12: Why should Savoy residents allow a Local Gasoline Tax to be added?
ANSWER: There are currently three gas stations along U.S. Route 45 in Savoy. Motorists who purchase their gasoline in Savoy come from a large geographical area that extends well beyond Savoy’s limits. Many folks from Tuscola, Arcola, Tolono, Monticello and Pesotum all travel through town on a daily basis and they routinely buy gasoline here. When they buy gas in Savoy, under this tax, they will help us spread our financial burden out to others beyond Savoy. In addition, many folks from Chicago and elsewhere attend University of Illinois football games and basketball games and they will also buy gasoline on the way in or out of town. This reasonable tax could tap that source of revenue also.
QUESTION #13: What would Savoy do with the money generated by a Local Gasoline Tax?
ANSWER: The Illinois Constitution allows a Home Rule community to use Local Gasoline Tax revenue for whatever purpose it desires. The Village could use this money to help keep Village property taxes down. A common destination for gas tax funds would be to pay for street maintenance, upgrades, and expansions. The money could be also used for new Bike Paths and new Shared-Use paths to parks and other destinations.
QUESTION #14: Does Savoy really need the money from a Local Gasoline Tax?
ANSWER: Yes. Like all other towns in Illinois, Savoy gets its roadway funding from the State’s Motor Fuel Tax (MFT). Although that tax was recently increased, it is still not enough to maintain our current roads nor pay for upgrades or extensions. Savoy has numerous subdivisions with concrete roads that are over 20 years old. Some have deteriorated because of “ASR” failures (called commonly “concrete cancer”). See ASR Photos on the the right. On Pheasant Lane in the Arbour Meadows Subdivision, the Village recently had to replace large sections of ASR-failed streets – at an unforeseen cost to the Village of over a $1 million. This is an on-going concern for any town that has concrete streets.
QUESTION #15: When would a Local Gasoline Tax take effect in Savoy?
ANSWER: The tax cannot be considered until the Consolidated Election is held on April 6, 2021 and the voters would have to say “Yes” to Home Rule. After that, the Savoy Village Board should gather citizen input to decide on the actual tax rate, then compile and approve an ordinance that mandates the tax. That effort could take several months that could extend to well into late 2021.
QUESTION #16: Why can’t the Village just use State and Federal grant money for its road work?
ANSWER: The Village is currently using the maximum amount of MFT money allotted to it. The State IDOT and Federal DOT do have grant funds that are available for road projects, but those grants are very competitive and difficult to secure. The Local Gasoline Tax funds would provide the local monies that are normally required to obtain these grants.
QUESTION #17: What kinds of road projects could be funded with a Local Gasoline Tax?
ANSWER: In 2020, the Village completed the preliminary design of a new paved Shared Use Bike-Pedestrian Pathway planned for the west side of South First Street, from Curtis Road to Windsor Road. (See the "Typical Shared Use Path" rendering at right.) The local gas tax could help pay for this project - instead of using property taxes. The Village would also like to build a new $38 million viaduct for Curtis Road, under the Canadian National Railroad - to improve access there (See photo at right - showing the current vehicle delays typical for this crossing.) The Village's share of this cost is estimated at $4.5 million. The Local Gas Tax funds would help pay for this - while reducing the Village's need to issue bonds.
QUESTION #18: Why does Savoy need an underpass at Curtis Road?
ANSWER: The Village does not currently have any fire stations on the east side of Savoy, east of the Canadian National Railroad tracks. During those times when a long train blocks all of the railroad crossings in town and a fire has broken out east of the tracks, fire trucks have to travel north to the Windsor Road Underpass in Champaign, greatly slowing down emergency response times.
QUESTION #19: What other authority would Home Rule give the Savoy Village government?
ANSWER: In general, Home Rule gives more local control to a community. That authority would extend to numerous aspects of government. For example, a Home Rule town could impose a tax on the sale of packaged alcoholic beverages, utilities services, sales at restaurants, tobacco product and cigarette sales, and lease receipts – all presumably to keep property taxes down. A Home Rule unit can also regulate and limit the size and location of outdoor billboard signs, if it wishes to do so. Lastly, Home Rule could also give the Village the power to set the minimum age requirement of entry into bars, preventing entry to those under the age of 21.
QUESTION #20: If Savoy is given Home Rule status, could it impose a local income tax?
ANSWER: No. Home Rule municipalities do not have the power to levy an income tax.
QUESTION #21: If Savoy’s residents become dissatisfied with Home Rule, can it be rescinded?
ANSWER: Yes. Home Rule status can be revoked by the voters, by a referendum.
QUESTION #22: If Savoy is given Home Rule status, would that authority allow the Village to increase its local sales tax?
ANSWER: Savoy's current local sales tax rate is 0.50%. With that rate, plus the state sales tax rate of 6.25% and the county's 1.25% sales tax rate, the current total sales tax in Savoy is 8.00%. The Village could increase its sales tax rate above the existing rate - without Home Rule approval. However, under non-Home Rule status a separate voter referendum approval is required to increase the sales tax. Voters are also advised that, in the opinion of the Illinois Municipal League legal staff, if the Village is granted Home Rule Authority, the Village Board could vote to increase its local sales tax rate without prior voter approval in a referendum. The IML states that any local sales tax increases would have to be made in 1/4% increases only. Click here to see the local sales tax rates of all towns in Illinois.
QUESTION #23: If Savoy is given Home Rule status, is it then REQUIRED to establish a Village Police Department?
ANSWER: Currently, all policing within the Village is performed by the Champaign County Sheriff's Office, based on a contract has existed between the county and the Village for a long time. The Village could establish its own police department, with or without Home Rule approval. Numerous non-Home Rule municipalities have their own police departments. However, Home Rule authority does not mandate the establishment of a Village police force. It is important to note that a review of the Village Board's meeting minutes (dating back to August 7, 2019) indicates that in recent years, the Savoy Village Board has not even discussed the issue of establishing a Village Police Department. Click here to view the Village Board meeting minutes currently on the Village of Savoy website.