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Freeport loses Home Rule status

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – After years of decline, the city of Freeport has finally seen its population drop below 25,000 people. This means the city does not qualify for Home Rule status. Local self-government gives local governments the power to create laws locally without having to follow state-issued guidelines.

Every city above the 25,000 population threshold automatically gets this rule. But now the population is smaller, around 24,000, and local leaders won’t have much say when it comes to enforcing things like sales tax in the city. This can cause problems. The city earns between $3.6 and $3.8 million in sales taxes annually. So if they lose that rule, they’ll either have to raise property taxes for residents or lay people off.

“As visitors come in, whether to buy furniture or groceries by shopping in our grocery stores. This tax that generates help[ayforresidentswholivehere”saidcitymanagerRandyBukas“Andoverthepast4yearswehavenotraisedourtaxratebutweshouldconsiderraisingtaxasoneofthealternatives”[aypourlesrésidentsquiviventici»adéclaréledirecteurmunicipalRandyBukas«Etaucoursdes4dernièresannéesnousn’avonspasaugmenténotretauxd’impositionmaisnousdevrionsenvisagerd’augmenterlesimpôtscommeunseuldessolutionsderechange[ayfortheresidentsthatlivehere”saidcitymanagerRandyBukas“Andoverthepast4yearswehaven’traisedourtaxratebutwewouldhavetobelookingatraisingtaxesasoneofthealternatives”

In 2020, the city attempted to cut $1 million from the general budget. This resulted in the loss of jobs in the city, which could not be filled. Bukas says 17 jobs were lost because of those cuts, and that was just $1 million. Compare that with the $3.8 million they would lose from sales tax alone, and that’s more than triple the jobs they lost last year. The vote to keep this rule in place will take place on November 8 next year. Until then, the rule of origin will remain in place, allowing the freeport government to operate as intended.

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Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera