Lena, IL. (ECWd) -
The Village of Lena, Illinois is a small municipality of around 2,900 residents and is located in Stephenson County.
It is well-known that public officials and public bodies cannot pass resolutions or ordinances which violate state law or the constitution. Apparently, the Village of Lena doesn't know that.
The Village Clerk, for years, has cashed in "unused" vacation and sick days as an elected official. No vacation or sick days were ever authorized for any Lena Village elected officials. The Clerk received her stated compensation, plus additional pay for vacation and sick days - resulting in receipt of compensation in excess of the stated compensation in the compensation setting resolution.
On August 10, 2020, The Village Trustees voted to let the overpayments slide (page 2), even approving by a split vote a Resolution "determining that no intentional acts were undertaken by Clerk Lynn Polhill in relation to any allegations of overcompensation." and that they will "take no further action" related to the overcompensation.
Another Resolution was also passed, "stating the opinion of the Village of Lena regarding the compensation of the Village Clerk" in which the trustees made several statements effectively saying that since the Clerk has for the past 25 years accrued vacation and sick days, and in complete violation of the 2016 compensation setting Resolution (here - pages 6 and 7), said that the Clerk did not receive improper compensation - but they will stop the paying of sick and vacation days to the Clerk (sounds like they admit it was wrong).
It appears the Trustees also approved what we allege is a fraudulent resolution/document (pages 4, 5, and 6), filled with items contradicted by the compensation setting resolution, and in violation of state law and the constitution prohibiting increases or decreases in compensation during a term of office.
- Section 1 is false. Those payments were improper as personnel policies do not trump compensation setting Resolutions.
- Section 2 is false. The Village does have a claim and cause of action against the Clerk for receive of compensation in excess of that which is permitted in the compensation setting resolution.
- Section 3 is false. The Clerk cannot further expend public funds to defend herself for receiving excess compensation.
- Section 4 is TRUE, except for the effective date. Vacation and sick days were never authorized, so the Trustees could never have made it effective on the passage of this Resolution.
Finally, I have submitted a Request for Review of two alleged Open Meetings Act violations for the July 13 and Aug 10, 2020, meetings for the reasons used to enter into executive session. The Attorney General's Public Access Counselor should make a determination on those two meetings.