Madison Co., IL. (ECWd) –
During the December 2022, meeting of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Madison County, their attorney, Thomas Burkart, made several statements concerning the authority of the Executive “Board” – which is actually a committee, or subsidiary body, of the Commission.
Later during the meeting, he stated the Executive Board can pass ordinances and resolutions that are binding on the Commission. We urge him to reconsider his stance on the subject.
It is our opinion that the executive committee possesses no powers, regardless of what is in the bylaws. Those powers remain with the Commission, and in some cases, with the Superintendent.
A Veterans Assistance Commission is a local government. As a local government, they only possess those powers granted to them by the Constitution or state law – a concept known as Dillon’s Rule.
(Chicago Division, Illinois Education Association v. Board of Education (1966), 76 Ill.App.2d 456, 222 N.E.2d 243.) It has also been held, and uniformly so, that a school board may not contract to delegate or surrender a duty conferred upon it by statute or to surrender discretion granted it by statute.
Also see Illinois Attorney General Opinion S-747: “The county board has no lawful authority to strip itself of its statutory powers or duties in connection with any of its various functions which require the exercise of discretion or judgment and vest the unlimited exercise of such powers or duties in a committee [without express statutory authority].”
The Illinois Military Veterans Assistance Act prescribes duties and grants powers to the “Commission” and to the “Superintendent” of the Commission. It grants no powers to any subsidiary body of the Commission. The Executive Committee is a subsidiary committee of the Commission, and as such, has no powers.
Any powers allegedly granted to the executive committee through their Bylaws are invalid as they conflict with state law. So even when the bylaws state the executive committee has certain powers, those parts of the bylaws are invalid and cannot be acted upon.
Those alleged Ordinances which the executive committee insists it had the power to pass must be placed onto the next meeting agenda and the full commission must vote to pass or fail those Ordinances – including the alleged pay raise to the Superintendent, which we believe is invalid for failure to obtain a vote of the Commission as required under state law.
This practice, similar to the practice formerly used in the Will County Veterans Assistance Commission, must immediately cease. The commission must take up their statutory duty and responsibility and invalidate (or approve) all previously alleged binding resolutions or ordinances “passed” by the executive board.
We suggest the Commission hire its own attorney, establish bylaws that do not conflict with state law, dissolve the executive “board” and seek to dissolve the alleged nonprofit using the same name as the public body.