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May 25, 2024

Shelby County Farm – Facts In History Matter

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On October 19, 2023

Shelby County, Ill. (ECWd) –

The Shelby County Farm continues to be a talking point for numerous citizens during county board meetings. Some cite the new law pertaining to leasing county farm ground and imply it means what they claim. We have to laugh because when we pointed to the law years ago, and even currently, numerous people would point out to the world we are not attorneys. We agree we are not attorneys, yet those same people are not pointing out to the people citing law to support what they believe are not attorneys either. Selective outrage.

What was the theme of licensed attorneys, every AG opinion and case law regarding the leasing of public property? Article VIII Section 1 of the Illinois Constitution applies to leasing of public property, period! Just as the new law does, as stated by the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate. A point ignored by a select few in Shelby County.

A point of history as it relates to the recently amended law on the matter, Senator Plumber sums it up quite nicely as can be viewed at this link.

“Counties and units of local government do need to make sure that whatever agreements they enter into regarding leasing farm ground abides by the Constitution as well.”

The short version, just because a law is passed does not mean the State Constitution no longer applies.

In the video, we referenced the Airport statute and how it allows certain things to take place in that unit of government. That section of the law found here, is not found in the Counties Code. The courts have said for years, that had the legislature intended for a unit of government to have the power given to another, they would have included it. The fact they did not indicate the other unit of government does not have that power. This principle is referred to as a statutory prohibition created by silence.

Specifically, section 6(9) provides power to the airport board that is not provided to the county board. That fact is why the county board is not permitted to delegate their duties to another.

  1. To employ or enter into contracts for the employment of any person, firm or corporation, and for professional services, necessary or desirable for the accomplishment of the objects of the Board of Directors or the proper administration, management, protection or control of its property.

The Shelby County Airport entered into a contract with the local bank to manager to manage their farm ground. The cost of that contract is 5% of the gross cash rent or gross receipts from the crop. While pleased to see a new agreement was entered into in August of this year, it is concerning that the only prior contract for these services was from 2006.  While the 2006 agreement indicates it auto-renews, the law forbids units of government to have evergreen clauses in their contracts.

A copy of the press release by State Representative Brad Halbrook we referenced in the video can be downloaded at this link.


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1 Comment
  • Paul Kane
    Posted at 13:12h, 19 October Reply

    I’ve struggled to understand how/why certain people in Shelby County would push the state to make new law for county owned land use.

    Upon review of content within the Facebook page “The poor farm in Shelby County”, the email correspondence between Shelby County officials did shed some light on HOW it occurred. It seems to me that the Shelby County State’s Attorney was pushed to support the agenda of “The poor farm in Shelby County” Facebook page administrator. It’s also my understanding that Carole Cole, now a Shelby County Board member and farm committee chair is “The poor farm in Shelby County” Facebook page administrator.

    As for the why, I’m still at the loss to understand much beyond willful ignorance or self-centeredness. As is, however unfortunate for Shelby County, “The poor farm in Shelby County” Facebook page administrator now appears to have no problem mixing official government business with private enterprise. I wish the Shelby County State’s Attorney were appraised of the situation.

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