Effingham, IL. (ECWd) -
While reviewing the Effingham Park District's policies, I came across a policy that shows compensation for Park District Commissioners, even though the Illinois Park District Code specifically states that commissioners shall act without compensation.
In short, this district codified its theft of funds and services in an attempt at making it legal.
Compensation to Commissioners
In Policy 6016 (and 6017), Board Member and Staff Use Of Facilities, the following is compensation given to commissioners in violation of law:
- Use of Park District facilities without charge.
- Waiver of, or reduced charge of, certain activities that would normally require a fee.
- Lifetime Pass to all former board members and one guest to all Park District related functions - along with a recognition at the first meeting of each calendar year.
See pages 9 and 10 of the Policy (here).
What is it with Park Districts that think they can just ignore established law and do as they please without any repercussions?
I suggest the district immediately rescind ALL compensation given to current or past commissioners and their families/guests - and demand repayment of everything already received.
Improper rules for addressing the Board
I am not sure if the rules for addressing the board that are posted on their website are meant to further restrict their approved, published, and established rules, or if they are simply there to try and keep people from addressing the board.
There are several problems listed - if the statement is intended for the public comment session of a meeting. First, there is no such thing as a "feasible suggestion" during public comment, and, second, it states they must make a request to the Director at least a week prior - when the Director has absolutely no say in what happens during meetings, and finally, the reason for addressing the Board must be stipulated at the time of the request - when this is not a requirement in the Open Meetings Act.
Website: "The EPD Regular Board Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. The meeting site is the Administrative Office of the Park District at 1906 South Fourth Street Road. The public is invited to attend any meeting. Anyone with a feasible suggestion may request an opportunity to speak with the Board. This request must be made to the Executive Director at least one week before the meeting. The reason for addressing the Board must be stipulated at the time of the request."
If the above statement is not meant for the public comment session, I suggest the Board state that on their website.
Improper Access/Fee Structure
The Park District Code specifically authorizes a park district to charge a different fee to "non-residents" of the district. This does not mean the district can develop its own interpretation of the definition of a non-resident. A non-resident is simply someone that does not reside within the district's boundaries.
Section 9002 of the Effingham Park District Policy Manual lays out some improper access/fee structures:
In paragraph 1, the district classifies in-district tax paying residents as a special class (leaving renters out in the cold), non-residents who own property in the district as a special class, non-residents who reside in Effingham Unit 40 school district (and pay school taxes) as a special class (meaning renters are left out in the cold). The same hold true for paragraph 2.
Nothing in the Park District Code authorized these classifications, and since we live in a Dillon's Rule state, the district only has the power given to it by the legislature - nothing more. This gives the appearance that some people are given preferential, special treatment above others when the only authorized special treatment is between residents and non-residents.
The problem lies with the entitlement mentality and individuals that think they are special and deserving of a special status. The bottom line is this: You are either resident of the district or you are not a resident of the district. Paying property taxes to the district, or paying property taxes to a school district have no relevance on whether you are a resident of the park district.