- CHRISMAN, IL. (ECWd) –
For the majority of this year, we have heard about the Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service (“NECAS”), a product of an Intergovernmental Agreement, needing additional funds to continue operating, and other needs.
We have also been told by the Edgar County Board and by NECAS that a Special Service Area is out of the question because there is some minimum population limit and that the area does not contain enough people to meet or exceed the minimum threshold.
We were informed by NECAS that their attorney had informed them of this “requirement” and our Edgar County State’s Attorney apparently told the county board that the NECAS’ attorney’s opinion was what they should follow.
We have asked the county board and NECAS for a copy of that opinion, and no such written opinion exists.
We have found no such statute or rule that would prohibit the formation of a new SSA in the norther parts of Edgar County. We have found an enabling statute authorizing its formation.
So we conducted some research into the issue, here is what we found:
- there is no minimum population threshold found in the statute to start a new Special Service Area
- A single property owner may petition with application to the local governing body for the formation of an SSA (Section 27-20)
The Special Service Area Tax Law, 35 ILCS 200/27-5 is the statute governing an SSA. There is no mention of any minimum population to form new SSA. There is instruction on the process used for forming a new SSA, including Hearings and Objections, and that the real estate within the proposed SSA must be contiguous with other properties.
We have also heard of the possibility of extending the current SSA used in the 7 townships making up the ECSSAA. Those rules can be found in Section 27-25 of the same referenced statute above, with the same Hearing and Objection process used to form a new SSA.
We suggest the NECAS and Edgar County Board both obtain separate, legitimate, written legal opinions on the formation of a new Special Service Area in Northern Edgar County prior to entertaining any possible expansion of the existing SAA from the Paris Area. This issue deserves more than simply a verbal conversation on its legitimacy.