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Woodstock City Council approves special census agreement

City estimates population increase will qualify for home-rule status

WOODSTOCK – The city of Woodstock at its meeting Tuesday approved an agreement to execute a special census, which is expected to put the population of the city at more than 25,000.

The total cost of the census is estimated to be about $89,000, according to city documents.

Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager said more accurately reflecting the population of the city will give the city additional revenues and the potential to have home-rule status.

“That is important because much of the dollars that come from the state relative to disbursement is based upon census data,” Sager said. “And so we want to make sure that the city of Woodstock and its residents are getting their fair share.”

In Illinois, any municipality with 25,000 or more residents automatically becomes a home-rule unit. The 2010 census listed Woodstock’s population at 24,770.

Home-rule municipalities in Illinois are allowed to impose and collect taxes locally on utilities, hotels, restaurants, alcohol and tobacco sales, and real estate transactions, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Home-rule municipalities also are exempt from the state’s property tax cap law that limits a local government’s annual levy request on existing property to the lesser of the rate of inflation, or 5 percent.

Two Woodstock residents spoke out with concerns about Woodstock becoming a home-rule unit, including Scott Gessert.

“Each of you have come up with good reasons, but I don’t think any one in and of themselves is compelling enough,” Gessert said to the council on reasons to complete a special census.

Council members responded to concerns by saying it would be irresponsible of them to not take advantage of getting the extra $151 in shared state revenue per person for the city, and that the city has a history of keeping taxes low for residents by not taking the property tax extension limitation law.

The vote was unanimous, with council member Mike Turner absent.

Sager said the last time the city did a special census was in 2008. City Manager Roscoe Stelford said he expects the census data will come back to the city in the fall.

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