EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
After several concerned citizens asked about our local school districts and their notices of hearing on tax levy, we decided to check into the situation. We referenced this issue in this article.
Here is what the Truth In Taxation says about publication of Hearing Notices:
Time and form of notice.
The notice shall appear not more than 14 days nor less than 7 days prior to the date of the public hearing. The notice shall be no less than 1/8 page in size, and the smallest type used shall be 12 point and shall be enclosed in a black border no less than 1/4 inch wide. The notice shall not be placed in that portion of the newspaper where legal notices and classified advertisements appear.
Any notice which includes any information not specified and required by this Article shall be an invalid notice.
This is what to look at when a notice is improper:
(35 ILCS 200/18-100)
A levy of a taxing district shall not be invalidated for failure to comply with the provisions of this Article if the failure is attributable to the newspaper's failure to reproduce the information in the notice accurately or to publish the notice as directed by the taxing district.
So if the District submitted the correct information the the paper, and the paper made a mistake in publication, the District is not penalized. However; if the District does not submit the required information to the paper, the District is penalized by declaring the notice and levy (above the 105%) invalid.
We discussed the following with Connie Sutton, District 95 Superintendent, and explained what the issues were, and she checked into the request for publication the District sent to the Paris Beacon News.
You can see by the publication (District 95 Publication Failure) it had errors on the following:
- There is no border.
- It is listed with the other classified advertisements.
- The telephone number is wrong.
- It doesn’t appear to be 12 point font.
- Paragraph 1 doesn’t contain the required information.
To determine whether the publication errors invalidated the levy, we must look at the publication instructions given to the paper (District 95 provided instructions to the paper). These instructions reveal that the paper did not error, but rather the District errored in their instructions.
As a result of the above, Connie Sutton sent a message to the Edgar County Clerk explaining the situation and informing him that the District cannot receive more than a 5% increase from last year. Considering they were seeking a 9% tax increase, this is a potential savings to the District taxpayers of 4%.
What more can one ask for? The District acknowledged the problem, and took immediate corrective actions - thank you for that!
But the sad state of thought in the majority of the other local government bodies in Edgar County is that they will bury their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away - and it never does, which is one reason we do what we do, in the manner we do it. Ignoring the problem, denying it - even when shown their own paperwork, refusal to discuss the issue, even accusations of nit-picking, and you get what we have now - everybody thinks the law applies to everyone esxcept themselves.