Local News

Defeated referendum back before voters again March 19

Thornton Township is again asking voters to approve a proposal to fund mental health services, even after it was defeated in 2023.

Voters will find three questions on the March 19 primary election ballot:

  • Raise taxes to organize a mental health service. It is estimated to cost $43.86 yearly for a home valued at $100,000.
  • Should the township open a second food pantry in the township to provide food assistance to the residents of Thornton Township.
  • Should the township charge a fee of $2 per person, which shall increase annually by the cost of living, for access to the township’s soup and salad bar.

Homewood residents live in eight precincts in Thornton Township east of Western Avenue and north of 183rd Street. 

These voters will be able to decide whether the township should establish a mental health services board. The question appears on the ballot after it was defeated 51%-49% in April 2023. The measure calls for a tax not to exceed 0.15% based on equalized assessed value (EAV) to provide community mental health facilities and services. 


The proposal is expected to raise $22.7 million on 2024 taxes. The tax will be collected semi-annually, or twice a year. It is expected to cost $43.86 per year on a house valued at $100,000.  

In a flier mailed recently to residents, township officials note that the measure “is designed to tackle a wide range of mental health concerns, such as developmental disabilities, substance abuse and suicide prevention.”

The flier also indicates the proposed tax increase would fund programs for seniors to address isolation, grief and anxiety.

Some elected officials representing township residents opposed the referendum last year, and Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld remains opposed to the proposal. He was among 13 elected officials who distributed a letter last year outlining the reasons for their opposition.

“We had stated we believe in mental health services. They’re sorely needed; however, the proper place is the county and the state level, not the township,” Hofeld said.

He was critical of the ballot language, which provided an estimated tax impact of $21.93 semiannually for a home with a market value of $100,000, which means the annual amount is doubled.

The ballot language in 2023 did not include an estimated tax impact, but at a January 2023 board meeting, township Director of Finance Robert Hunt said taxes would increase by $45, or $3.75 a month, for a home valued at $100,000.

“It’s a very heavy tax for services that should be provided by the county and state,” Hofeld said.

In the 2023 letter, officials said property owners in the South Suburbs are already overburdened by taxes. State Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, and 6th District Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, who represent Homewood, also signed the letter.

The Chronicle attempted to get information on the other two referendum questions.

The township currently has a food assistance center at 15340 Page Ave. in Harvey. Food is distributed Wednesday mornings and afternoons. The Chronicle did not get a response from the Thornton Township pantry director on where a second food pantry would be located.

The township website does not list a soup and salad bar service. The Chronicle requested information on this program, but did not get a response.

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week