EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –
Redmon, Illinois is a small municipality on the west side of Edgar County. It is not unlike any other small municipality with the exception of certain members of the town council who think they can do as they please. The most recent incident was holding an illegal meeting.
Attorney General Complaint
At their September 10, 2012 meeting, the Redmon town council held an illegal meeting. A citizen called them on the fact there was no agenda for the meeting and was subsequently subjected to almost 10 minutes of humiliation and intimidation by the council members. They acknowledged not having an agenda, but decided to break the law anyway and continue on with the plan to hold an illegal meeting. During this meeting they took action on several items, including some tree removal contracts and an auditor contract. All of these items are void, considering it was an illegal meeting.
The Open Meetings Act clearly states that ALL meetings of a public body must have an agenda posted, at the meeting location, at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.
Redmon and Clark-Edgar Rural Water District
A couple years ago, the town council voted to have CERWD provide water to the residents of the village, making the residents customers of CERWD. This action by the council was an illegal action, as they had no legal authority to take such action. What is more disturbing it that the CERWD and Francis Associates knew it was an illegal action, but they voted to provide the water anyway. Every other time they have provided water to a new area, the annexations were completed as the law requires. They didn’t legally annex Redmon because they knew two thirds of the registered voters would not sign the petition.
The only two legal ways to provide water to Redmon are a bulk water contract with the village, keeping the village as the “provider” to the customer, or Annex the city into the district. Annexation requires a petition signed by two thirds of the registered voters in the area to be annexed, a vote accepting the annex by the CERWD board, a court holding a public hearing, approving or changing the proposed area, and the court determining the new district boundaries. Once all of those steps were completed, the CERWD could supply water to their new customers. Notice that it doesn’t mention any action taken by the village council? It’s because none is required or authorized.
This very topic came up at the Metcalf Public Hearing last month and CERWD insisted Redmon was annexed into the district, but during the CERWD meeting they acknowledged Redmon was not annexed and insisted they still had the right to provide them water “because the residents needed it”. Sorry, Mr. Jones, it doesn’t work that way.
Dillon’s Rule: “Regardless of how much it is needed or wanted”
There is a simple legal rule, known as Dillon’s Rule, which basically states:
“The government or official may not carry out that function regardless of how much it’s needed or wanted.
If the statutes are silent (do not mention) regarding a particular power or function, it does not exist.
If the power doesn’t exist, the government (or official) may not perform the service.”
Why the rush?
As the contracted engineer firm, there is only one way to keep getting paid – by perpetual expansion. Once expansions come to a halt, the money does also. In an effort to keep the money flowing, it was necessary to provide the water to Redmon, legal or not, in order to obtain another grant. The CEWRD is over $24 million dollars in debt, with a line of credit of $2.75 million that is almost maxed out at the bank the district board chairman holds stock in – so there is a need to keep expanding to obtain grants to pay what they have already spent – enabling them to start more expansion.
Maybe it is true what Bob told us during a CERWD meeting: “Those guy (trustees) in there are doing the best they can, they are just a bunch of good old boys…you can pick on me all you want…”