Illinois (ECWd) –
The more Districts we look at, the more problems we find. For some reason, Park Districts, along with other local governments, seem to have been given the wrong definition of “shall serve without compensation” – or maybe they are just confused on what the definition of “compensation” is.
“Compensation may be paid as money, a commodity, a service or a privilege. ”
What we have been seeing across the State, is Park Districts giving “discounts” to Commissioners, either in the form of free admission to certain events, free or discounted golf course memberships, free stays in park cabins, free annual boat stickers, merchandise at cost, and also including all of these freebees for family members and former Commissioners for life. This is wrong and it must stop.
Another problem we have been seeing is the different “membership” or “fee” rates applied to individuals.
The Park District Code specifically addresses fees in Section 8-1(h), listed under their Powers:
(h) To establish fees for the use of facilities and recreational programs of the districts and to derive revenue from non-resident fees from their operations. Fees charged non-residents of such district need not be the same as fees charged to residents of the district. Charging fees or deriving revenue from the facilities and recreational programs shall not affect the right to assert or utilize any defense or immunity, common law or statutory, available to the districts or their employees.
What this paragraph tells me, is that the District can establish fees – and only has the power to establish different fees for non-residents. Meaning, the cannot charge one resident a different fee than another resident (for any reason).
Some district are charging resident couples and families at a different rate than single people – which is not in compliance with the law. We still live in a Dillon’s Rule state, and if the district is not given the power, they do not have the power.
Furthermore, a person could establish that any fees to residents are only intended to cover costs of the service, but the District can charge more than their actual cost to non-residents in order to derive income from them, and not from the residents.
Both of these points and more will be elaborated on in future articles.