Columbia hones in on home rule

Consideration of Columbia becoming a “home rule” municipality continued during Monday’s meeting of the Columbia City Council. 

Home rule cities are able to operate with greater flexibility as they are not beholden to only the powers granted by Illinois state statutes.

A few common criticisms of the home rule issue were addressed Monday as alderman voted to pass an ordinance which would limit the city’s scope in several aspects if the home rule referendum is passed by voters during the April 4 election. 

The ordinance limits the city’s ability to levy a tax by capping an increase to 105 percent of the “aggregate extension of the previous year” or “the increase in the consumer price index from the prior year, whichever is lesser.”

The ordinance also sets the city’s debt limit to 8.625 percent “in aggregate” of the valuable of taxable city properties.

Furthermore, the city will not be able to impose a “crime-free housing” ordinance which would require landlords to evict tenants “as a result of calls for police services.”

In January, the city approved inclusion of a home rule question on the April ballot. 

The ordinance approved Monday night would apply only if the referendum is passed.

The city is beginning a campaign to inform Columbia residents about the upcoming referendum.

In addition to information on the City of Columbia website and posts on the city’s Facebook page, the city will host a series of a town hall meetings.

The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 16, from 6-7 p.m. on the fifth floor of 11 South, 100 Eleven South. 

The goal of the meeting is to “educate residents on what home rule means and how Columbia could benefit,” according to a post on the City of Columbia IL Facebook page. 

For more information, visit or call 618-281-7144.

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Scott Woodsmall

HTC web