Will Co. (ECWd) -
Knowing their obligations and knowing the laws they are supposed to be following is the first step for any elected official. That is why my first public comment to public bodies tends to be a simple question, have you read your powers and duties? In most cases, they have not. Another question is to identify mandatory obligations the elected officials have by law and ask them about it.
One of the few Township government functions deals with what is known as Emergency Assistance. It also happens to be one of the most abused government programs we have seen and tends to be provided based on a confusion with another Township Code that deals with Social Services.
During a Dupage Township meeting, I asked the Board a simple question about Emergency Assistance. I asked because Emergency Assistance is money that is tied to the General Assistance tax and has very specific limitations as to what it can be spent on.
My first question was simply, how many have read the Public Aid act as it relates to General Assistance and Emergency Assistance. That question triggered immediate cover from Supervisor Mayer, who instructed them they basically don't have to answer any questions from the media or the Public. All sat quietly except Trustee Benford who confirmed she has read the act.
The next question was just as simple.
Q: Can any of the Board members provide the public with the maximum dollar amount that was set by the board for Emergency Assistance?
A: Trustee Oliver-"I believe it's $15,000.00 dollars we are required to have in the fund."
Why did I ask that questions? Because of what the law says. The same law that certain board members appear to have never read. Based on Trustee Oliver's answer, I would say she has never read the law nor has any clue of her obligations under that law, thus unable to properly audit such expenses as a trustee.
According to the law: "The emergency assistance so given shall be by vendor payment in an amount necessary to meet the need, up to the maximum established by the local governmental unit".
DuPage Township has never set the maximum amount that can be given under Emergency Assistance. So if that figure has never been set, how are they providing this assistance to anyone and is what they are providing truly Emergency Assistance as the law defines it?
"emergency financial assistance to alleviate life-threatening circumstances or to assist the individual in attaining self-sufficiency may be given to or in behalf of the applicant. The emergency assistance so given shall be by vendor payment in an amount necessary to meet the need, up to the maximum established by the local governmental unit."
Life-threatening circumstances or assist the individual in attaining self-sufficiency.
Emergency Assistance is only allowed to be given once in a 12 month period according to the law.
"Emergency assistance shall not be granted under this Section more than once to any applicant during any 12 consecutive month period."
Based on answers and actions to the most basic questions, it appears to be safe to say they are clueless about what the law says.
For example, Home Relief was shifted to the General Assitance fund by the Supervisor. General Assistance is a specific levy that covers General Assistance and Emergency Assistance under very specific criteria. General Assistance is also a fund that the Supervisor controls himself and the board has no vote on such expenditures. According to the forensic audit, which lacked real analysis, which we covered in this article, the Supervisor shifted "Home Relief" from the Township Fund where board members have a say, to the General Assistance Fund where he controls it.
A home relief program is a service that could possibly be provided under section 85-13(a)1(G), "Social Services for the poor and aged". A request has been submitted to identify details of this service and if it is being operated as outlined by law because of comments we saw in a past publication regarding Supervisor Mayer.
According to Supervisor Mayer's candidate profile published in the Daily Herald, "We have saved over 600 homes from foreclosure".
While I understand the stress a foreclosure action has on a person and their family, taxes are levied for specific government functions and we do not believe it is legal to for Townships to use peoples tax money to save private homes from foreclosure.
We have yet to find any Township statute that permits taxpayer funds to be used to save peoples homes from foreclosure but rest assured we are still looking. A request for details specific to his claim has been submitted and we will update accordingly.