February 5, 2017 · 2 Comments
Shelby Co. (ECWd) –
During a recent correspondence with the Director of Township Officials of Illinois regarding certain legalities pertaining to Township spending, a statement was provided that everyone should come to know and understand.
“As you know, Dillon’s Rule provides that townships may exercise those powers specifically granted by law.”
We have echoed that statement for years and regularly encourage public bodies to always ask for statutory direction before spending taxpayer money. In short, the law tells you what you can spend money on. For example, if you want to donate money to private organizations you would have to find statutory language that allows that type of spending.
The word “donation” appears 6 times in the Township Code. Most of the time it ties the term donation to property, either donated to the township or that the township can donate to other entities, such as a museum or historical society. What we could not find anywhere in the statute is the power for a Township unit of government, to give money away to civic organizations listed below.
Challenge to the Shelbyville Township Board
Provide the public with the statutory citation that authorizes their tax money, $29,300.00 in 2016, to be given away to the following organizations.
We raise this challenge because not only can we find zero statutory authority for such a giveaway, we now find that they fully intend to donate more money to these types of organizations at their next meeting February 6th, 2017. I would urge people to attend that meeting and simply ask, where in the law does it permit them to give your tax money away to private groups like those listed above and on the agenda for Monday night found here.
What about other groups in this community that want money? What determines why some are supported with taxpayer funds and not others? Although giving taxpayer money away may make those groups feel good to get financial support, and make those giving it feel like they are contributing, they have actually created a real problem for the Township in our opinion.
Taxpayer money is protected by our Illinois Constitution, specifically Article VIII Section 1, which states:
(a) Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.
(b) The state, units of local government and school districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payment from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance.
Again, we challenge the Shelbyville Township Board to provide the legal authorization for them to give money to private groups of their choosing.
* In addition, we do note that a donation to the historical society is authorized, with qualifiers. Qualifiers that appear to not have been met in the case of the Shelbyville township. The Township donated $1,000.00 last year. What does the statute say about such a donation?
(60 ILCS 1/275-5) – Distribution to museum or historical society. Whenever a township board determines that the general township fund of the township contains funds not derived from a township tax levy that are not needed for township purposes during the remainder of the then current fiscal year, the board may by resolution direct that all or any portion of those funds (not to exceed $10,000) be distributed to a not for profit museum or historical society to be used for the operation and maintenance of the museum or historical society. (Source: P.A. 82-783; 88-62.)
This is a perfect example of statutory authority for the spending of money. Did the Township comply with the law? In order to determine compliance, you have to apply the qualifiers listed in the statute.
They donated $1,000.00, which is less than the $10,000 limit. The annual report shows two revenue sources, one of which is a tax levy and the other a Replacement tax. Although the report does show interest as a revenue, that interest comes from both tax levy money and Replacement tax so there would be limitations of that use based on the source of the funds creating the interest. In order for them to spend the $1,000.00, it would have to come from the Replacement Tax, which is not a levy. “Replacement taxes are revenues collected by the state of Illinois and paid to local governments to replace money that was lost by local governments when their powers to impose personal property taxes on corporations, partnerships, and other business entities were taken away.”
So you can see, this expenditure to the historical society would pass the legal test of specific authorization by law.
We can’t say the same for the other donations.
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By Kirk Allen
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