April 18, 2017 · 4 Comments
Iroquois Co. (ECWd) –
The request was simple, the response is compelling.
The fact of the matter is no such statute spells out that either a County, Emergency Telephone System Board, or the illegally set up ICOM Joint Dispatch has the power to bill for dispatching emergency calls. We covered many of these matters in June of 2014 yet it is apparent with the continued billing they have no problem breaking the law.
Response to the Request:
They might be well advised to either seek legal counsel or if they did, get new legal counsel.
SECTION 10. INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION
(a) Units of local government and school districts may contract or otherwise associate among themselves, with the State, with other states and their units of local government and school districts, and with the United States to obtain or share services and to exercise, combine, or transfer any power or function, in any manner not prohibited by law or by ordinance. Units of local government and school districts may contract and otherwise associate with individuals, associations, and corporations in any manner not prohibited by law or by ordinance. Participating units of government may use their credit, revenues, and other resources to pay costs and to service debt related to intergovernmental activities.
(b) Officers and employees of units of local government and school districts may participate in intergovernmental activities authorized by their units of government without relinquishing their offices or positions.
(c) The State shall encourage intergovernmental cooperation and use its technical and financial resources to assist intergovernmental activities.
Back to that pesky Dillons Rule. “Not prohibited by law or by ordinance”. Billing for dispatch services is, in fact, prohibited by law because the power to do that was never provided in the statutes covering Emergency Telephone System Boards. If the power is not provided, you can’t enter into an intergovernmental agreement to do something not allowed by law.
And to drive that point home, our legislature made it very clear when they wrote the Intergovernmental Agreement Act.
5 ILCS 220/3) (from Ch. 127, par. 743)
Sec. 3. Intergovernmental cooperation. Any power or powers, privileges, functions, or authority exercised or which may be exercised by a public agency of this State may be exercised, combined, transferred, and enjoyed jointly with any other public agency of this State and jointly with any public agency of any other state or of the United States to the extent that laws of such other state or of the United States do not prohibit joint exercise or enjoyment and except where specifically and expressly prohibited by law.
ETSB has never been given the authority to bill for dispatching services. Thus they can not exercise such a power in an intergovernmental agreement.
More importantly, Intergovernmental agreements are confined to agreements authorized by the units of governments entering into such agreements. Any bets on the County finding agendas reflecting a vote to be taken for these agreements? We suspect no minutes will reflect any such approval either. We have requested any such records and are placing our bets that none exists.
(5 ILCS 220/5) (from Ch. 127, par. 745)
Sec. 5. Intergovernmental contracts. Any one or more public agencies may contract with any one or more other public agencies to perform any governmental service, activity or undertaking or to combine, transfer, or exercise any powers, functions, privileges, or authority which any of the public agencies entering into the contract is authorized by law to perform, provided that such contract shall be approved by the governing bodies of each party to the contract and except where specifically and expressly prohibited by law. Such contract shall set forth fully the purposes, powers, rights, objectives and responsibilities of the contracting parties. (Source: P.A. 91-298, eff. 7-29-99.)
And for all those wanting to give these law-breakers the benefit of the doubt, looking at just one year of billing, we find two invoices being sent to non-public agencies, Iroquois Memorial Hospital and Riverside Medical Center. Neither of those billed are public agencies, thus they can not enter into an intergovernmental agreement.
As I pointed out in June of 2014, which I know County officials read, the law is clear.
(5 ILCS 220/2) (from Ch. 127, par. 742)
Sec. 2. Definitions. For the purpose of this Act:
(1) The term “public agency” shall mean any unit of local government as defined in the Illinois Constitution of 1970, any school district, any public community college district, any public building commission, the State of Illinois, any agency of the State government or of the United States, or of any other State, any political subdivision of another State, and any combination of the above pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement which includes provisions for a governing body of the agency created by the agreement.
So once again, a response to a simple FOIA makes the case for us. The ETSB, under the management of a 911 Director who orchestrated the billing for dispatch services county wide may well have placed the county into a real financial mess and not just from those agencies terminating payments for these improper invoices. They may well face a false claims suit to recover all of the improper billing and collection of money without statutory authority.
We see for tonight’s agenda item VII-C – “dismissal of the 911 Director”.
We can only wonder if the ETSB has the courage to once and for all bring this long history of violations of law to an end. If the ETSB will not act to stop the illegal action, then it’s time for the County Board to remove them all for neglect of duty, a power give to them by statute that we in fact wrote!
By Kirk Allen
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