UPDATE: Rockford leaders react to home rule's failure to pass

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Updated: March 21, 2018, 7:04 p.m.

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Voters have spoken and home rule does not pass by a slim victory.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says he's looking forward, despite the voter's decision against home rule.

"When I started being mayor we didn't have home rule. Today we don't have home rule. It's not life or death," said McNamara. "I mean, if you look at what we've campaigned on, to what we've been working towards, none of them have changed."

The referendum was voted down by less than 2,000 votes out of more than 24,000 cast. This keeps Rockford as the largest city in Illinois without home rule.

McNamara says he's staying positive and keeping his focus on goals the city has and will achieve.

"A five percent reduction in violent crime. We've not just invested more money in our public safety efforts, now we're over 300 officers for the first time in a decade," said McNamara.

Rockford Area Realtors was the most high-profile opponent against home rule, saying the taxes would hurt low-income families and there wouldn't be enough checks and balances, however, they say there is still work to be done despite their victory.

"We're very willing to sit at the table, look at the total picture and the total problem, and be part of the solution. That's the way democracy works. The voters have spoken, and now it's up to us," said Rockford Area Realtors Association CEO Steven Bois.

"Our goal is to make Rockford a safer, more stable community. We want to have people moving into Rockford, not moving out," said McNamara.

At Monday's city council meeting, aldermen said if home rule did not pass, the city would implement a utility tax. That tax could generate nearly $3.5 million to help fix the city's $10 million budget deficit.

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Posted: March 20, 2018, 11:22 p.m.

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The most highly contested race in Rockford is split by less than 2,000 votes.

After months of campaigning to bring Home Rule back to Rockford, voters choose to remain the largest city in Illinois without home rule.

Several organizations came forward in opposition to the referendum, including Rockford Area Realtors. CEO Steve Bois says if Rockford voters chose Home Rule it would have been like writing a blank check to city leaders.

"We have some good news in this community and we want to keep building on that good news and we want to do it collectively", said Bois. "We're hoping that we can engage the best that we can to have a positive impact on our community and help solve these financial issues as well as others. I think this is a good day for Rockford and we're going to move forward."

During Monday night's Rockford City Council committee meeting, alderman decided if Home Rule was not passed, the city would implement a utility tax that could generate nearly $3.5 million to help fix the city's $10 million budget deficit.