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June 13, 2024

Sangamon Valley Public Water District’s Management Contract Should Be Rescinded –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On May 1, 2023

Mahomet, Ill. (ECWd) –

During a Special Meeting of the Sangamon Valley Public Water District held on April 5, 2023, just weeks prior to a newly elected board taking over the District from the appointed (and lame-duck) board, it decided to place “Veolia Contract” on the meeting agenda. No mention of approving or voting on the contract, nor what services the contract would provide.

We suggest the newly formed Board of Trustees immediately dissolve the management contract do the District’s failure to properly place it on an agenda for a vote, the board’s lack of statutory powers to contract away the entire management and maintenance of district property, and the contract is a five-year contract which improperly binds the hands of the incoming board.

This action was taken by a lame-duck board to thwart the will of the people who voted to elect water district board members.

Open Meetings Act

The Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) requires the public be made aware of what specific items will be voted on during the meeting, and this public body knows how to place items on an agenda for a vote. Previous agendas specifically reference items that will be acted on, or will be voted on, but this special meeting agenda did not. It simply said “Veolia Contract.”

See Section 2.02(c) of the OMA:

2.02(c) Any agenda required under this Section shall set forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting.

Illinois Attorney General’s Binding Opinion 22-008 discusses the requirement to place things on an agenda so that the public would be aware of what actions the board is considering taking.

“However, the Illinois Supreme Court has indicated that section 2.02(c) requires that a public body’s agenda include sufficient detail to notify members of the public of the types of final actions that public bodies anticipate taking. Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 v. Attorney General of Illinois, 2017 IL 120343

The Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, has determined that an agenda item simply stating “vote on lease rates” did not comply with the Open Meetings Act, but looked at a different paragraph in the OMA. See Allen v. Clark County Park District, 2016 IL App (4th) 150963

Public Water District Act and Terms of Elected Board Members of a Public Water District

Section 4.2(d)(4) and Section 4.2(e) both reference when newly elected trustee terms of office start and when the appointed trustee terms of office end, and they start and end on the first Monday of the month following their election. The election was in April, so May 1, 2023, is the first day of their terms of office.

For the newly elected trustees:  (d)(4) The term of each elected trustee shall commence on the first Monday of the month following the month of his or her election.

When the appointed trustees’ terms of office end:  (e) Whenever a district determines to elect trustees as provided in this Section the trustees appointed under Section 4 shall continue to constitute the board of trustees until the first Monday of the month following the month of the initial election of trustees or until successors have been elected and have qualified, whichever occurs later. If the term of office of any appointed trustee expires before the initial election of trustees, the authority that appointed that trustee under Section 4 shall appoint a trustee to serve until a successor is elected and has qualified.

Contracts Binding the hands of future boards

In 1974, the Illinois Attorney General published an opinion on contracts exceeding the term of the board, S-849, in this case it would be 2 years since parts of the water district board of trustees will be elected every other year.

He quoted the Milliken v. County of Edgar case in which the court stated, in part:

If the board has the power to enter into a binding contract of this character for three years, no reason is perceived why it might not make a contract for five or even ten years, and if this could be done, the hands of succeeding boards would be tied, and their powers taken from them.”

The opinion goes on to say:

It is clear that where newly elected members are unable to legislate regarding matters affecting government and involving county (district) property held in trust which is subject to an outstanding lease executed by their predecessors in office, their hands have been effectively tied. The voices of those members commencing their new terms, whose election reflects the most recent expression of the will of the electorate, would be silenced with respect to the use of such property of the county. This is the result which is to be avoided.”

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1 Comment
  • NobodyImportant
    Posted at 08:34h, 01 May Reply

    Bill Volk at CUMTD routinely had his contract extended beyond the term of the incoming board during his tyrannical reign. Hope he’s enjoying his $300,000/year pension, which was ballooned by abusing stipend pot payouts the year before his retirement.

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