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Jackson County Ballot Propositions: What To Know
November 6, 2022
CARBONDALE– Worker’s rights, home rule and school board seats are some of the highlights on Jackson County’s ballots for Tuesday’s election.
A state-wide proposed amendment will be on the November 8 ballot, asking residents to add section 25, Workers Rights’ to article one of the Illinois state Constitution, Bill of Rights. This amendment will also make minor changes to section six and article seven of the Illinois State Constitution.
The Workers Rights’ amendment will grant employees complete control to organize collectively and deliberate things like wages, safety issues, scheduling and working conditions. To make this possible, more than 60 percent of voters have to vote yes for the amendment to be added to the Illinois State Constitution.
The proposition says after it is passed, another law cannot be made that overrides workers’ rights and ability to protect employees. An excerpt from the Secretary of State’s proposed amendment reads:
“No law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety, including any law or ordinance that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.”
The home rule amendment is specific to Carbondale residents, as they are voting on if they want to get rid of home rule in 2023. Carbondale has been a home-rule city for 50 years, allowing local government to address local problems without consulting state government laws.
“If you’re not home rule you only have the power that has been granted to you by the state government,” Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said. “If you do have a home rule you can create laws that fit your needs locally. It gives local governments more flexibility in creating legislation and policy based on unique circumstances or conditions that are best for that specific community.”
Home rule is automatically granted to cities with a population of 25,000 and above. Since the 2020 census, Carbondale’s population has dropped by 4,000 below the cut-off. A public vote is needed to allow residents to decide if they want to keep home rule because of the population drop.
“In Illinois, you can get home rule in your municipality in two ways. One is via referendum, you put it on the ballot and voters vote it in. You typically have it forever unless voters choose to rescind it. Two, once you achieve a population of 25,000 you will get home rule automatically,” Williams said.
Since the home rule amendment in Carbondale, more than half of the sales tax comes from non-residents through sales and gasoline. The city established a “flat real estate tax levy for over 20 years by using sales taxes to fund city services,” according to the city of Carbondale. Home rule also allows the local government to increase sales tax options in the community without voter approval.
“For Carbondale, probably the most important power it gives us in terms of rental housing. Over 70 percent of our housing is rental because. We’re home rule. We have a registration program that requires landlords to register,” Williams said. “We have a safe housing addendum, it’s a requirement that they register their units with us. It’s a requirement that they pay us $35 annually per unit. It’s a requirement that they let us inspect it initially when they become licensed at least once every three years.”
Home rule gives cities the ability to raise sales taxes and create sales taxes. Carbondale created a couple of local taxes a few years ago to help fund two things: help with capital improvement projects and sub-supplement our public safety pension requirements.
“Carbondale city council has maintained a low real estate tax levy for the city for city services. Our annual tax levy this year was 2.6 percent, lower than it was in 1999, which is pretty unheard of, for municipalities,” Williams said. “The reason that the council can do that is that we have sales taxes that are generated mostly by non-residents. When people are coming to town every day to work, shop and all those types of things. They’re spending money and generating revenue that we use to pay for services.”
If Carbondale were to lose the ability to raise sales taxes or if they lost whole gross sales taxes in place, home real estate – higher property taxes – would be the only source of revenue to replace that.
More information on “home rule” is available on the city of Carbondale website.
There are a total of seven seats on the board of Elverado school district 196. Every two years it’s either four or three spots open at a time. Since there is a seat vacant during this upcoming election, the board has to propose a referendum on the ballot for a public vote to have board members elected at large.
“Right now they’re [board members] are elected based on what area in the district they live in. There is a limit to only three members on the board that can reside in the same area in the district,” Elverado School District Superintendent Kevin Spain said. “However, because the population decreased we have two areas in the district that never had anyone run for the board. As a result, at least one seat goes unfilled in almost every election.”
The proposition on the Jackson county ballot asks voters to vote yes or no to allow the Elverado school district to elect board members regardless of residency, so it can maintain representation for the school district.
“According to the law, we put out a notice, people can apply, we interview them, and then we fill that seat. Typically, that usually doesn’t happen either. If we can’t find somebody, then we have to let the regional superintendent know that we have a vacant seat. And then they have a certain number of days in which they’re allowed to try and fill that seat themselves, which also does not happen,” Spain said.
Community members interested in running have to go to the county clerk’s office and get the appropriate paperwork, then complete a petition and get a list of signatures. Once this is approved, it would be placed in the following election on the April ballot.
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