Coles Co. (ECWd) –
Judge Fahey denied Coles County Motion to Dismiss Count I in a lawsuit brought against the county for improperly hiring a private person to perform commercial assessments in the county.
She granted a motion to Dismiss County II regarding board members receiving health insurance, however, we believe she missed two key provisions in the law when making that decision.
According to the docket entry, she states
“Plaintiff attempts to use 55 ILCS 5/4-10001 as a basis for the Court to ignore 55 ILCS 5/5-1069. 55 ILCS 5/5-10001 deals with compensation a county board member receives pursuant to resolution. If the Legislators intended for insurance to be part of this resolution, they would not have enacted 55 ILCS 5/5-1069, which specifically deals with insurance for county employees, including county board members, and does not require a resolution to pay the insurance.”
We believe she confused the issue with “paying” the insurance vs a board member receiving insurance as a benefit which is in fact a form of compensation and covered specifically under another law that she did not mention, which requires a resolution.
50 ILCS 145/2 (b) In addition to the requirements of subsection (a), the compensation of county elected officers shall be fixed by ordinance or resolution of the county board or the board of county commissioners. In the ordinance or resolution fixing the compensation of county elected officers under subsection (a), the county board shall separately list each stipend an elected officer is expected to receive in addition to the compensation to be paid by the county. The stipends listed shall include, but are not limited to, stipends expected to be received under:
Section 3-40 of the Property Tax Code.
Section 4-20 of the Property Tax Code.
Section 3-10007 of the Counties Code.
Section 4-2001 of the Counties Code.
Section 4-6001 of the Counties Code.
Section 4-6002 of the Counties Code.
Section 4-6003 of the Counties Code.
Section 4-8002 of the Counties Code.
She also missed the Illinois State Constitution which forbids an elected official to receive an increase in compensation during their term of office which is what happen when the county started providing health insurance to County Board members.
“Article 9(b) An increase or decrease in the salary of an elected officer of any unit of local government shall not take effect during the term for which that officer is elected.”
It is well established that benefits are part of a person’s salary which means receipt of insurance by a county board member falls under both the statute we cited above and the state constitution.
We would hope a motion to reconsider is filed or possibly an amended complaint on that county as it does not appear the motion to dismiss was granted with prejudice.
This is a huge victory for the taxpayers of Coles County because now depositions and additional discovery can take place to get to the truth of what really happened and who was behind a laundry list of malfeasance that took place when the County Board improperly hired a private appraiser to do the job of the Supervisor of Assessments.
Tom DeVore with Silverlake Group was the Attorney for Charles Stodden, the Plaintiff who brought the case forward.
We will update accordingly.