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Home rule

Matteson asks voters for home rule as Tinley Park District 140 seeks new school

Matteson officials promise lower taxes and fees if voters approve a June 28 referendum giving the village self-governing authority.

Such a decision “provides a greater level of self-determination” and gives the village greater financial flexibility, according to the village.

This is the second time Matteson has tried to win self-government status, as the referendum was rejected by voters in 2014.

Also on the primary ballot, a referendum in Kirby Elementary District 140 in Tinley Park seeks approval to build a new school, paid for with available cash reserves.

The self-governing authority gives a community options to impose new taxes, such as a sales tax or transfer tax, on property sales. Matteson officials passed a resolution stating that they had no plans to implement a transfer tax if voters approved of self-government.

The village council also recently put a cap on the village tax levy, with no increase for five years, even if the bylaws are approved.

Matteson officials said plans include using self-government status to “diversify revenue streams” to become less dependent on property taxes as a source of revenue.

The village would eliminate, with the exception of commercial vehicles, vehicle vignette fees and also remove a 1% tax on food and beverages purchased from restaurants and other venues that have catering facilities.

Illinois communities with a population of at least 25,000 automatically receive self-governing authority, and some that are under that population have gone to voters to win self-governing powers.

Matteson’s population is 19,374, according to the 2020 census, up from just under 18,300 in 2010.

Along with a transfer tax, self-governing communities can enact a sales tax, and Matteson is considering such a tax to pay for infrastructure work, such as improving village streets.

According to the village, the self-governing authority would also allow it to use the tax revenue generated from its hotel/motel tax for general fund purposes.

Officials said a separate domestic tax could also be applied to goods shipped from an Amazon fulfillment center, which opened last fall.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, where much of the discussion centered on the benefits of embracing self-reliance, Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin said voter approval “would take Matteson to the next level. “.

Financially and in terms of economic development, Matteson is succeeding, said village administrator Anthony Burton, but would benefit more from self-governing approval.

“We’re doing well and we can do better,” Burton said.

The home rule would also allow Matteson to enact tougher crime-free housing rules aimed at rental units, Police Chief Michael Jones said at the meeting.

“It gives us a bit more bite and responsibility,” he said.

Separately, Kirby District 140 is seeking voter approval to tap into cash reserves to build a new Fernway Park School just west of the existing school at 16600 88th Ave., Orland Park.

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The district said there would be no property tax impact on residents of the district, but voter approval is needed to tap the reserves for the project, which would see an 83,000 square foot school built. at an estimated cost of $34 million.

The district had last summer considered three options that included building from scratch or adding to the existing school and renovating the 42,000 square foot space.

Remodeling the existing building and adding 42,000 square feet cost $25.5 million, while the 25,000 square foot remodel and adding 65,000 square feet was estimated at $31 million, according to Superintendent Michael Byrne. Both of these options were deemed too disruptive to the functioning of the school.

With the new building, the district will consolidate early childhood programs at Fernway, centralizing services for preschoolers and freeing up classrooms at other elementary schools in the district, according to District 140.

If voters approve the plan, the district plans to start next year and have the new school ready for the 2024-25 school year.

The existing building will continue to be used during construction, but will eventually be demolished to make way for parking, a playground and green space, according to the district.

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Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera