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Election 2023: Thornton Township mental health board referendum falls short

Voters said no in the Tuesday, April 4, election to a referendum that would have allowed Thornton Township to establish a community mental health board.

With 100% of precincts reporting, the unofficial vote count was 6,802 “no” votes, or 51.10%, to 6,508 “yes” votes, or 48.90%.

The referendum was placed on the ballot by the township board. Homewood east of Western Avenue and north of 183rd Street is part of the township.

The referendum asked voters to approve an additional tax not to exceed 0.15% to support mental health services in the township.

If it had been approved, the township would have set up a community mental health board appointed by the township supervisor. Such boards were authorized by the Illinois legislature in 1963 through the Illinois Community Mental Health Act.

Township officials estimated the tax increase on a home assessed at $100,000 would be about $45 annually.

The measure received push-back from mayors and other elected officials representing the township. Thirteen officials, including three representing Homewood — Mayor Rich Hofeld, Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller and state Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) — signed a letter opposing the referendum

The officials expressed support for improving mental health services, but they objected to increasing property taxes in a region already struggling with high tax rates.

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