McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
During the last Algonquin Township meeting, Trustee Shea, while acting in the capacity of chairman for the meeting, made a claim about the Road District tax levy that was noteworthy.
I laughed when I watched the video and had numerous discussion's with people regarding the fact the Township Board just scuttled the Road District funding for next year and possibly for good. I had posted the following statement on social media the following day: "Regardless, what they did last night is going to be the laughing stock of the state. We will disclose right before Christmas!"
My inbox was filled with people wanting to know what they did.
Trustee Shea stated, "if this is not approved, it goes back to last years", referring to the levy. Trustee Shea could not be more wrong and he, trustee Victor, and the attorney are the ones to blame for what is sure to be yet another court action.
The board had a duty to certify the levy that was presented by the Road District. They failed in their duties. It should be noted that the Road District complied with their obligation as it pertains to the levy.
By law, that levy has to be submitted to the Township Clerk no later than the last Tuesday of the month, which in this case is Christmas, thus a one-day extension is provided, making December 26th the deadline for its submission.
Since the board did not certify the levy at their last meeting, they have run out of time to certify the levy.
According to the Township Code for Special Township Meetings, they can not hold a special meeting sooner than 14 days from the date the Board notifies the Clerk for the reason a special meeting is to be called. Considering the regular meeting was on December 12th, 2018, there was not 14 days available before the deadline to turn in the levy to the County Clerk. Even if they had called for a special meeting on December 12th, the statute for special meetings forbids the special meeting to be held before 6 pm, which is after the County Clerk office closes for the day, making it impossible to turn in their levy before the deadline.
As it stands, the Algonquin Road District will not have a tax levy for next year.
According to the property tax code, any future levy that is more than 105% of the preceding year requires a truth in taxation hearing. What is 105% of zero? ZERO! So the question that may be before the courts is how can the Algonquin Township re-establish a levy after they failed to levy in a PTEL (Property Tax Extension Limit) county? It may end up being subject to a referendum approving a new levy by the voters.
In what is sure to be another legal battle on several fronts is the legal opinion from the Township Attorney James Kelly, who by the way sat silently during this levy vote but did take notes as evident from the video. Kelly now confirms the Road District did what they were supposed to do and now instructs the board of their duty. Too little to late in our opinion. He goes on in his opinion to suggest a special meeting be called to certify the levy for the Road District.
Considering we find no provision for the Township Board to call Special Meetings outside of the one outlined above that contains a 14 day minimum wait period before holding such a meeting, what statute does Kelly suggest they follow for calling such a meeting? Any attempt to use 80-10 would be inappropriate as there is no language in that statute for calling special meetings. In fact, attempts to have the legislature clarify this point last year failed because the legislature said there was no need to clarify this statute as it clearly does not point to special meetings in any fashion so the use of it for such is improper. We know this because we are the ones who drafted the clarifications for submission and addressed this in committee meetings.
Special meetings are different than regular meetings and the most basic statutory constructions require a plain reading of the law. There is no question the Township Board has the power to call a special meeting. The plain reading of that statute leaves no room for confusion on how soon such a meeting could be held and when.
60 ILCS 1/35-5
Special township meeting.
Special township meetings shall be held when the township board (or at least 15 voters of the township) file in the office of the township clerk a written statement that a special meeting is necessary for the interests of the township. The statement also shall set forth the objects of the meeting, which must be relevant to powers granted to electors under this Code. The special township meeting shall be held no less than 14 nor more than 45 days after the written request is filed in the office of the township clerk. Special township meetings may not begin before 6 p.m.
(Source: P.A. 95-761, eff. 7-28-08.)
That being the case, Trustee Shea and Victor, by failing to do their job as explained by their own attorney who let them violate their obligations, have scuttled any tax levy for the Road District for next year. This fact is confirmed by their attorney in his letter. "This means that the Road District will have no income for the FY 18-19 year." (James Kelly)
And for those who want to claim an emergency meeting is justified, think again. The Road District turned in their levy in more than enough time for it to be certified. The fact the board refused to certify the levy shows that there was no emergency but rather failure to act as the law outlines.
Although a relief to peoples property tax bill, it also means Road District services will probably terminate about May of next year when they run out of funds.
What option does the Road District have in this case?
(605 ILCS 5/6-114) (from Ch. 121, par. 6-114)
"Sec. 6-114. ......The highway commissioner shall have power to bring suit upon such bond for any loss or damage accruing to the district by reason of any non-performance of duty, or defalcation on the part of the treasurer. (Source: Laws 1959, p. 196.)"
I predict more action in the courts due to more failures by the Township Board all while their attorney sat silent and allowed them to ignore their obligations.