Livingston County, IL. (ECWd) –
The Livingston County Board negotiated the “retirement” of their now-former Sheriff Tony O. Childress, and approved the Retirement Agreement during the February 24, 2022, Livingston County Board meeting. See Item V(8)(a) of the meeting agenda.
Additionally, from looking at the March 7, 2022, meeting agenda, the now-former Sheriff is attempting to negotiate for mileage reimbursements.
According to the Retirement Agreement:
- there are 9 months remaining in his term of office
- both parties agree the Sheriff will retire early
- retirement is effective February 25, 2022, and is final, permanent, and irrevocable
- Livingston County will pay the equivalent of six (6) month’s salary on the next payroll following receipt of this signed agreement
- He will continue to receive health, dental, vision, life, etc. for 6 months
- They acknowledge elected officials are not eligible for unemployment benefits (the same applies to severance pay in our opinion)
- He relinquished and waived all possible claims against the county (but now is seeking mileage reimbursements)
- Both parties acknowledge without this agreement he would not be eligible for any of the aforementioned payments (we believe the payments violate the constitution and are prohibited)
According to the Illinois Constitution, Article VII:
- A Sheriff is a County Officer (see Art VII, Sec 4)
- Counties only have the powers granted to them by law (see Art VII, Sec 7 and also see Dillon’s Rule)
- Increasing or decreasing the pay of an elected official during their term of office is a prohibited act and violates the constitution (see Art VII, Sec 9(b)) (also see Harlan v Sweet, which referenced the constitutional prohibition)
To permit, and approve, a Sheriff (or any elected official) to “retire” early and grant him a 6-month advance payment on the date of his retirement is a prohibited act as is constitutes an increase or decrease of pay during the term of office in which he was elected.
Prohibited acts such as this are considered illegal and cannot remain unchallenged.
Even though there are extenuating circumstances on why this Sheriff retired early, the advance pay upon early retirement, constitutes an illegal increase in pay during his term of office. “No matter how much it is wanted or needed” if the power was not granted, it cannot be done (Iowa Supreme Court Justice John Forest Dillon).
We asked the Livingston County State’s Attorney Randy Yedinak for comment on specific questions related to the retirement agreement, and he basically declined to comment by providing the following statement:
“I appreciate you reaching out to me on this subject. I believe the document, as well as the public discussions surrounding it, speak for themselves. Many of the questions asked require a legal opinion which (due to my role as legal counsel for the County) I am ethically precluded from giving. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Feel free to contact me should you have additional questions or concerns of which I can answer.“Retirement Agrmnt-ShrffChildress022422