MARSHALL, IL. (ECWd) -
Culminating a several week back-and-forth "debate" the City of Marshall voted to give a private cemetery another $10,000 this year in its appropriation Ordinance.
It is our understanding that this Donation also included city personnel and city equipment to mow and weed eat the cemetery.
On the bad advice of their attorney, Mr. Richard James of Paris, Illinois, the City Council voted to appropriate $10,000 to the Marshall Cemetery Association. This same cemetery had in previous years leased out farm land without having it placed on the tax rolls (in violation of the tax code), and has been receiving funds from the City since Mayor Camie Sanders was elected as Mayor.
Marshall's Mayor Sanders had been a Cemetery Trustee at least up thru 2013 (see page 7 of their IRS Form 990), then the payments from the City started.
Use of Public Funds in this fashion violates Article VIII, Section 1 (a) and (b) (here) of the Illinois Constitution, violates Dillon's Rule, violates the Illinois Municipal Code, and is a slap in the face to every taxpayer in the City of Marshall.
The Illinois Farm Bureau published a couple of good articles on the subject of cemeteries in 2014 (click here to read them) - where it explains that local governments cannot simply decide to appropriate public funds for cemeteries they do not own. It violates law.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (an Agency of State Government) has also weighed in on the subject of Cemeteries in a 2009 publication (see page 4) further supporting our argument that the City of Marshall does not possess the power to appropriate public funds or property to the Marshall Cemetery Association or its cemetery.
The most recent IRS Form 990 that we could find on the cemetery showed they had well over $200,000.00 in the bank. It is not known by us whether those funds can be used for routine maintenance or not. But it does not matter.
The ONLY legal way for the City of Marshall to support the continued operation and maintenance of the Marshall Cemetery is for the cemetery association to basically dissolve and sign the real estate over to the City. There is no other option, and hopefully, someone will step forward and file a criminal complaint with the Clark County Sheriff, and ask the State's Attorney to seek quo warranto action against the City of Marshall for misappropriation of public funds, property, and credit.
On all of our research, we have come across nothing giving any public body the authority to provide for the routine maintenance of a cemetery owned by a cemetery association. It has been exactly the opposite. . . until we read about the City of Marshall's attorney, Richard James, who is most certainly marching them down a path they cannot legally support.
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