McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
While the criminal investigations continue in Algonquin Township, is it possible we have yet another area for those authorities to dive into that has gone unnoticed by the local media and authorities?
While reviewing State Board of Elections documents we noticed an interesting donation. Interesting because in December I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the following:
"A copy of all agreements, contracts or any other form of approval for a private business named Liberty Signs to place their advertising billboard on Township Property."
Bob Miller's campaign received $5,200.00 from JACK R. SCHAFFER, President of Liberty Outdoor Advertising on May 1st, 2017.
On May 15th, 2017, Miller's longtime friend, the past Township Clerk and current Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow signs a four-year contract with Liberty Outdoor Advertising for $1,000.00 a year. What was leased for $1,000.00 a year?
"North side of Rt. 14 one mile east of intersection of Rt. 14 and Rt. 31"
A few Big problems for Supervisor Lutzow:
It appears the contract he signed is illegal.
- No Agenda item for such action to be taken.
- No minutes reflecting it was ever approved.
- Signed by the Supervisor without board approval
What can of worms does this lease bring, that should include the resignation of the Supervisor?
In this case, since the property being leased is listed as Township Property and not Road District property, the leasing of that property is a subject matter for the Electors and/or a vote of the Board of Trustees, not independent action by the Supervisor. Even though the contract says they Township has the authority, we find no evidence the Township approved this action.
(60 ILCS 1/30-50)
Sec. 30-50. Purchase and use of property.
(a) The electors may make all orders for the purchase, sale, conveyance, regulation, or use of the township's corporate property (including the direct sale or lease of single township road district property) that may be deemed conducive to the interests of its inhabitants, including the lease, for up to 10 years, or for up to 25 years if the lease is for a wireless telecommunications tower, at fair market value, of corporate property for which no use or need during the lease period is anticipated at the time of leasing.
(d) Before the township makes a lease or sale of township or road district real property, the electors shall adopt a resolution stating the intent to lease or sell the real property, describing the property in full, and stating the terms and conditions the electors deem necessary and desirable for the lease or sale.
Anytime during the year, the township or township road district may lease or sell personal property by a vote of the township board or request of the township highway commissioner.
The Annual Township meeting agenda had no such action to be voted on by the Electors and we have searched all the 2017 minutes and find no vote or discussion on this lease agreement.
Now for the tax problem! We routinely find public bodies leasing property, which is legal if done right, however, rarely are the property tax bills being sent to the private entity that leases the property.
The Illinois Revenue Code is clear on who pays the tax on public property that is leased for private use. Any bets the Township failed to inform the County the leased tax-exempt property to a private entity?
Of special interest, in this case, is language found in item (c) from the above-listed statute.
(c) If the leased property is utilized in part for private use and in part for public use, those portions of the improvements devoted to private use are fully taxable.
The property leased is in fact used for private use and subject to property taxation to be paid by the leasee. If the tax bill did not go to the leasee, the citizens of Algonquin are shortchanged on property taxes and a business gets to operate on public property without any concern of property tax, which is a direct violation of the law.
Sec. 9-195. Leasing of exempt property.
(a) Except as provided in Sections 15-35, 15-55, 15-60, 15-100, 15-103, 15-160, and 15-185, when property which is exempt from taxation is leased to another whose property is not exempt, and the leasing of which does not make the property taxable, the leasehold estate and the appurtenances shall be listed as the property of the lessee thereof, or his or her assignee. Taxes on that property shall be collected in the same manner as on property that is not exempt, and the lessee shall be liable for those taxes.
Now back to why this campaign donation caught our attention.
The primary was February 28th, 2017. Miller lost!
Miller reports an expenditure of $6,877.50 on 3/9/2017 with Liberty for Signs & Billboards according to the itemized reporting.
May 1st, 2017, Miller's reporting reflects a contribution of $5,200.00 from the owner of the very company he just spent $6,877.50 with.
Who spends $6,877.50 on signs and Billboards after losing an election?
Who donates $5,200.00 to a campaign AFTER the person loses the election?
Why does the contract have a payment clause effective for payments after 1998?
Is this yet another one of Millers long established business deals at the taxpayer's expense?
We could understand the expenditure not happening until after the election because of the mail and invoice delivery, however, we can't come up with any logical explanation why a business would donate over $5,000.00 to a campaign that lost the election over 2 months earlier.
By all indications, the authorities might want to add a few things to their investigation list as the appearance is a donation was given to the loser candidate Miller after the election, then presto, the close friend of Miller who won the election just happened to sign a contract in secret from the board. Doesn't pass the smell test!
And as to not miss an opportunity to expose the ignorance of public officials, we fell out of our chair with the quote in the Northwest Herald today.
“Bob Miller is the Tom Brady of township government,” Lesperance said. “There’s never been anybody that did a better job at being a road commissioner than Bob Miller.”
As if all the questionable activities of Miller were not enough to counter such a crazy statement, this article preparation identified yet another violation by Algonquin officials.
The May 10th, 2017 minutes reflect: "Highway commission Miller asked for approval of the Verizon bill that came in today for $772.09."
The board unanimously supported the motion to pay the bill.
No such bill was on the agenda for approval! That being the case, even on the last meeting for Miller and those who allowed all the malfeasance to take place, they once again violated the most basic of our laws, the Open Meetings Act by taking action that was not on the agenda.
Supervisor Lutzow should resign!
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