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Limestone Township – Request to disprove non-legal opinion.

Kankakee Co. (ECWd) –

We received a letter from an anonymous source disputing our analysis of the Special Township meeting Limestone Township held recently.  The letter can be viewed at this link. It appears the confusion this person has is understanding posting requirements in relation to when the meeting can be held once requested. We suspect this opinion comes after communications with Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) as the person references Special Township meetings called by or called “for” the electors.

A recent communication with TOI resulted in them taking the position that Township Special meetings are called by the Board, “for” the electors, which is not what the statute says.

(60 ILCS 1/35-5) Special township meeting. Special township meetings shall be held when the township board (or at least 15 voters of the township) file in the office of the township clerk a written statement that a special meeting is necessary for the interests of the township.

Note that it does not say or imply that the Special Meeting is called “for” the electors.  There are in fact specific powers the Board has at a special meeting, thus a Special Meeting is not solely for the electors as has been insinuated in the letter and by TOI.

The letter claims the Township Code is silent as to notice provisions pertaining to a regular Township Board meeting or a Special Township Board meeting with the exception of Article 80-10(b).

From the Township code on Annual Township meetings, which is not a Regular Board meeting, it includes notice requirements for special meetings, contrary to the claim the law is silent on that matter.

(60 ILCS 1/30-10)
    Sec. 30-10. Notice of meeting; agenda.
    (a) Notice of the time and place of holding the annual and any special township meetings shall be given by the township clerk (or, in the clerk’s absence, the supervisor, assessor, or collector) by posting written or printed notices in 3 of the most public places in the township at least 15 days before the meeting and, if there is an English language newspaper published in the township, by at least one publication in that newspaper before the meeting. The notice shall set forth the agenda for the meeting.   

So reading the Township code, the law is not silent on notice requirements for Special Meetings and we find it clearly outlines specific obligations of the Clerk when a Special Meeting is called.

The anonymous letter claims:

“You incorrectly allege that any Special Township “Board” Meeting must be “no less than 14 nor more than 45 days after written request is filed in the office of the Township Clerk.”

All you have to do is read the Township Code on Special meetings to see when they can have their meeting.

(60 ILCS 1/35-5) Special township meeting. Special township meetings shall be held when the township board (or at least 15 voters of the township) file in the office of the township clerk a written statement that a special meeting is necessary for the interests of the township. The statement also shall set forth the objects of the meeting, which must be relevant to powers granted to electors under this Code. The special township meeting shall be held no less than 14 nor more than 45 days after the written request is filed in the office of the township clerk. Special township meetings may not begin before 6 p.m.

It would appear this concerned citizen is confusing keywords in the Township Code.  Reading the above statute for Special Meetings, if the board calls a special meeting by written request on October 1st, then the soonest that meeting could be held is 14 days later, or October 15th.  Note the time of holding the meeting has nothing to do with the Notification requirements.

Additionally, the language in the Annual Township statute points to notice obligations of Special Meetings when transferring funds.

60 ILCS 1/245-5(c) Whenever it is desired to submit the resolution at a special township meeting, a special township meeting may be called when the supervisor, together with at least 25 voters of the township, file with the township clerk a written petition stating the purpose for which the special township meeting is to be called. Upon the filing of the petition, the township clerk shall give notice of the special township meeting in the same manner and for the same length of time as notice is required to be given of the annual township meeting. The notice shall state the object of the special meeting. The special meeting shall be held at the place of the last annual township meeting.

The notice required for the annual township meeting is 15 days, so once again, the claim the law is silent as to notice provisions for Township Special Meetings is simply not true.

When a specific statutory obligation is outlined and is in conflict with another portion of the law, the specific statute is the prevailing language to be used as we understand case law and statutory construction.

So which statute would apply for the transfer of funds at a Special Meeting, the one specific to that action or the language in the Special Meeting statute?  It would be the specific statute which is 15 days Notice as outlined in the law for Annual Meetings.

The law is not silent on Special Meeting Notice as being claimed, which is confusing as the citizen provided a copy of the statute but failed to read or chose to ignore the notice requirements of a Special Township meeting.

(60 ILCS 1/35-10) Notice of special meeting; business at meeting.
    (a) Notice of a special township meeting shall be given in the same manner and for the same length of time as for regular township meetings.

We are not disputing the Townships authority to call a Special Meeting, which Limestone Township did.  What they did, which we contend violated the law, was hold that meeting prior to the 14 day statutory timeline for holding the meeting, which is not related to the notice obligations in this case.

They may have provided notice in accordance with the 48 hrs outlined in the Open Meetings act, but that does not free them from waiting to have that meeting within the timeline outlined by law, which is between 14 and 45 days.

If the Special Meeting was requested October 1st, then the latest they could post the notice/agenda is 48hrs prior to the meeting date, which by law would have to be no sooner than 14 days from the time the request was filed. So provided the notice was on the 13th or sooner, they would have met the notice requirement.

“In my unprofessional opinion, Limestone Township had the authority to call a Special Township “Board” Meeting provided the Supervisor and/or any two Board members followed the 48-hour Notice/Agenda provision to the Board Members and the public, followed the posting requirements and, of course, conducted only the business that was listed on the Agenda, all of which are pursuant to the Open Meetings Act.”

The above quote is citing language from a statute that pertains to a specific matter, 60 ILCS 1/80-10, reviewing of accounts, which is not related to the action taken by the board during the Special Meeting in question, thus that statute is not applicable to the Special Meeting that was called.

Just as TOI attempted, the citizen goes to great length to imply the Special Meeting is only for action of the Electors, even though that is not the case.  That position appears to be based on this language in the law. “The notice shall set forth the object of the meeting as contained in the statement filed with the township clerk, which must be relevant to powers granted to electors under this Code.”

Define relevant? Considering the Special Township Meeting statute gives the “Board” specific powers to act, it is not exclusive to electors.

“Since I am not an attorney, I look forward to an article on your website disproving MY non-legal opinion, or, in the alternative, a retraction of YOUR erroneous allegations stated in the aforementioned two articles.”

Considering we have provided multiple examples of Notice Requirements for Special Township Meetings found in the law, it should be safe to assume we have in fact disproven the claimed position of the concerned citizen that the law is silent on the Notice obligation. I would prefer to look at this as providing an educational analysis of the situation at hand and let the law speak for itself.

Townships should not confuse Notice requirements with the timeline of holding the meeting requirements as they are quite different depending on the meeting and business at hand.

We welcome any and all input on the above information and hope it clears up any confusion anyone had regarding the obligation to wait no less than 14 days to hold a Special Township Meeting, just as the law outlines.

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