It turns out Woodstock is a little larger than the U.S. Census Bureau initially thought.
The final tally from a special census completed in September shows the city with a population of 25,528, which is 171 more than the Census Bureau’s preliminary estimate. That represents an increase of 758 people from the last regular census, which took place in 2010.
The City Council commissioned the special census in part to see if the city qualified for home rule, which is automatically granted to municipalities of at least 25,000 people. Once the official count is affirmed by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, the city can conduct itself as a home-rule community. The Secretary of State likely will sign off on the total in mid-January, according to a press release from City Manager Roscoe Stelford.
Home rule gives cities and villages a lot more leeway to implement ordinances and otherwise run municipal government. In anticipation of gaining that status, the City Council on Dec. 20 held a public workshop to review some of the administrative options available to home-rule communities.
Among the ideas discussed were landlord and business registration programs, property maintenance and crime-free housing policies, an initiative to prioritize city purchases from local businesses, and changes to the police department’s hiring, discipline and promotion policies. The council also talked about increasing fees for video gambling terminals and reviewing the fees and penalties for some offenses, which a city document presented to the council described as being “onerous and often more than an offender can afford.”
Members of the council asked city employees to review the items and compile a list of pros and cons for each option.
Once the city receives its official home-rule designation from the Secretary of State, the City Council should plan on re-adopting its existing city code pursuant to home-rule authority, City Attorney Ruth Schlossberg said during the workshop.
“It draws a bright line,” Schlossberg said. “It says on this day, going forward, we act as a home-rule community.”