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June 22, 2024

Kankakee Park District violating Open Meetings Law – Fails to approve meeting minutes for nine consecutive months

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On February 21, 2017


The Kankakee Valley Park District, on the losing edge of a financial cliff, has apparently made the decision it doesn’t want the public to know what happens at “their” meetings.

With the district in financial ruin, having laid off nearly every employee, you would think they would make a better attempt at transparency with their official acts during meetings, but that has not been the case.

According to Executive Director Dayna Heitz, the most recent meeting minutes approved by the Board of Commissioners are April 25, 2016, nearly 9 months ago.

With the recent failure of the Kankakee School District’s attempt at loaning the park district $903,000 it is even more critical to find out what the park district has been up to the past year, but unless we can see the minutes, it’s anyone’s guess.

The Illinois Open Meetings Act states that minutes shall be approved within 30 days, or the second subsequent regular meeting, whichever is later [5 ILCS 120/2.06(b)] . Either there have been no regular meetings (we believe there have been), or the KVPD has violated the Open Meetings Act by not timely approving meeting minutes.

One could even argue this failure to approve meeting minutes violates the Park District Code, Section 4-6, where it explicitly states that nobody can create a debt, liability, claim, or obligation on or for the park district unless and until authority to do so has been approved at a meeting of the commissioners and the decision (approval) duly recorded in a record of the meeting’s proceedings. How can anything be duly recorded in a record of proceedings if the commissioners won’t approve the minutes?

Have they been paying their bills and invoices without authority to pay them?

Whatever the case may be, this park district needs to approve all of these minutes in a timely manner, and publish them on their website, so the public can determine what they have been doing since April of 2016.

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  • FraNK rIZZO
    Posted at 15:01h, 21 February Reply

    What were they trying to sell bonds for?

    Though it has not made a formal offer yet, Kankakee School Superintendent Genevra Walters said the school district’s package will come with a lower interest rate than the 9 percent offered by an out-of-state financing firm, First Southern Securities, of Georgia, which is offering to buy park district bonds.

    Financing capital improvements with the sale of bonds? Or financing short term operating costs with bonded debt?!

    Ahhhh- lets see those minutes!

  • Mike
    Posted at 17:40h, 21 February Reply

    The Park District issued two series of bonds on January 25, 2017.

    Series A, Taxable, unknown amount, Coupon 9.5%, maturity 2018 – 2021.

    Series B, $181,000 principal, Coupon 6.35%, maturity date 2020 & 2021.

    No Official Statement or other documents were released to the EMMA MSRB website (CUSIP 48451P), an indication of poor transparency.

    One could submit a FOIA request to the park district for any documents and emails related to the bond issue.

    The financial information for the park district on the State of Illinois Comptroller website (Comptroller code 046/010/12) indicates financial difficulties and poor transparency, with expenditures exceeding revenues in 2016.

    The park district’s fiscal year ends May 31st.

    The annual audit was due to the Illinois Comptroller by November 27, 2016, and still has not materialized.

    Here is a comment by the park district’s auditor that appears in the May 31, 2015 Annual Financial Report (AFR):

    “Basis for Qualified Opinion on Recreation Fund –
    Because of the inadequacies in the Park District’s accounting records, we were unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence about the amounts recognized for the sales and expenditures of certain special events
    conducted during the year.

    We were also unable to obtain proper support for certain expenditures charged on credit cards.

    Consequently, we were unable to determine whether any adjustments to those amounts were necessary.”

    • FraNK rIZZO
      Posted at 20:44h, 21 February Reply

      Well something else just turned up: A Corrective Action Plan submitted to the Compliance Manager,Local Government Division, State of Illinois, Office of the Comptroller on February 13, 2015 by the Kankakee Valley Park District, concerning apparently needing to pay their audit firm for doing retroactive financial analysis so that they can know what the numbers actually were for the FY 2013 audit, and thus then be able complete the 2014 audit.

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