Dillon’s Rule Would Seem to Preclude Township Mosquito Abatement

Flooding Lakewood home. in Algonquin Township. Photo credit Mackensie Garcia.

Even since I learned that the Algonquin Township Road District provides mosquito spraying in unincorporated areas, but not in my incorporated neighborhood, I have wondered how such discrimination is justified.

I have been told that the service which my neighborhood as approved at an Annual Town Meeting, but it still seems unfair that I am taxed to provide benefit others.

It would be hard to find a part of the township which  experiences flooding more than ours.

Now, Illinois Leaks subject takes on the subject with a different twist.  Its post is republished with permission.

Algonquin Township – Mosquito-gate – the gotcha game backfire

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –As the three-ring circus continues in Algonquin Township, a recent gotcha attempt appears to have backfired for the person raising the issues, but has resulted in positive steps for compliance with the law.

Melissa Victor

Dan Shea

Each month for quite some time the Algonquin Township Trustees, particularly Trustee [Melissa] Victor and [Dan] Shea, have made a spectacle of themselves during the auditing of the Road Commissioner’s bills.

The recent finger-pointing has opened a most interesting can of worms.

Trustee Victor sent an inquiry to the Road District with several general ledger payments for different things the Road District has purchased.

“I am requesting the bidding information for the following items.  See attached.”

It appears Victor is of the mindset that since the multiple purchases from individual vendors total more than $20,000.00 for each vendor, they are required to be bid.

Such a position is not only wrong, but it shows she does not understand the obligations of either the Highway Code or the Township code.

Bob Miller

Andrew Gasser

Of interest in this attempt to once again find fault instead of fixing things, is the multiple faults identified to include those of Bob Miller, Andrew Gasser, the entire Board of Trustees, the Supervisor, and the attorney watching this all take place, meeting after meeting.

It all begins with an auto-renewing contract for Mosquito Abatement that Bob Miller entered into with Clark Environmental in 2015.

The first fault? 

The Highway Code has no provision for a Road District to sign such a contract because mosquito abatement is not a power given to the Road District.  [Emphasis added.]

Nor does a public body have the power to execute auto-renewing contracts as confirmed by Iroquois County State’s Attorney when we exposed the issue in their county.

Automatic Contract Renewal Act (815 ILCS 601/5) 
    Sec. 5. Definition. In this Act: 
    “Contract” means a written agreement between 2 or more parties
    “Parties” include individuals and other legal entities, but do not include the federal government, this State or another state, a unit of local government, or a school district. 
(Source: P.A. 91-674, eff. 6-1-00.)

Miller’s improper actions is a perfect example as to why units of local government are not permitted to have such contracts.

They go unchecked because they are signed and forgotten.

People get voted out, new ones come in and so do the bills, which simply get passed to the board and they approve it because that is how we have always done it, and besides, everyone hates mosquitoes so there can’t be anything wrong with paying it (sarcasm).

This contract started at $19,020.88 for the first year, and now in 2018, has more than doubled in cost to the taxpayers.

And yes, the Board approved the payments without question.

Now, Trustee Victor added up the totals she approved for 2018,  $39,029.38, and wants to now know why it was not bid.

Wrong question! 

How about, why did you approve bills for a service that is not a function of a Road District, or why is a Road District contracted to perform a function they have no power to perform?

Second fault?

Mosquito abatement bills come in and you have a new person in charge, in this case, Andrew Gasser.

He gets told the bill is tied to a contract signed by Miller.

He checks, yep, its true.

So what does Gasser do?

Submits the invoice for the Township to audit and pay.

Gasser’s first mistake is not knowing the restrictions of auto-renewing contracts.

His second mistake, falling for the age-old trap of, this is what the Road District has always done in the past so surely it’s ok, especially since the micro-managers of the current Township have never raised any issue with it since day one of his term in office.

He should have researched the statutes he is bound by and determined if a Road District has such power.

They do not.

So both Miller and Gasser were providing mosquito abatement without any statutory authority. [Emphasis added.]

Third fault?

The Township Board has taken great steps towards finding anything possible that the Highway Commissioner might have done wrong, not for the purpose of fixing anything, but rather trying to force him out of office and or be prosecuted.

Watching the video of the meetings has become its own soap opera.

No problem, accountability is great.

However, in this case, they really missed the boat.

The board, past and present, has approved bills for Clark Environmental for years all while failing to realize they have a problem.

  1. First, they approved bills for the Road District that had nothing to do with Road District business.
  2. Secondly, the only authority for mosquito abatement in Townships comes from either the Board or the electors if the electors choose to create a taxing Mosquito Abatement District.

Fourth fault?

Victor wants answers on bidding for multiple purchases from Clark Environmental, Waste Management, Elgin Recycling, and Mid American for road repair materials.

If Victor had any real understanding of the Highway Code she would know that of the items she wants info on, only Mid-American purchases would be subject to bidding.

The Highway Code is very specific and it appears, Highway Commissioner Gasser laid it out quite well in his response letter.

Gasser also points out the obligations of the Township as it relates to their bidding obligations, which are not the same as the Road District.

He mentions phone service as a possible issue that may require bidding if it exceeds the Township bid threshold of $20,000.00.

While we do not know the total expenditures of the phone service in Algonquin at this time, we have FOIA’d the contract for phone service and we suspect, as we have found in other places, the Township may well be involved with an auto-renewing contract.

If so, they need to terminate it, just as Gasser did with the Mosquito Abatement contract.

If the total service contract exceeds $20,000.00, they would need to bid it out.

Fault five? 

Public Officials have to depend on their legal counsel to provide them sound legal advice.

Simply asking a question to the attorney during a meeting is not sufficient as we have seen more than a few dozen times, the attorney simply advocates for the position of the client with their response, not expecting anyone to call them out on such advice.

Such responses have been routinely proven wrong.

Legal questions, in our opinion, need to be answered in writing to include statutes and case law to support the opinion.

Anything less is nothing but lip service.

Jim Kelly

It appears all of the matters Victor brought to the table this time have all been taking place while James Kelly, the Township Attorney, sat silently during the very meetings where bills are being approved by his client for matters that have nothing to do with the entity that submitted them.  Maybe it’s time for a new attorney?

It appears fairly clear, Victor’s attempts of finding fault on Gasser have backfired.

In fact, it appears fairly clear her actions have exposed numerous failings, past and present, to include her failure as an auditor of the Road District.

As this feud between certain trustees and the highway commissioner appears to have no end in sight, it would do them all good to stay focused on their own obligations and duties before pursuing a fault finding mission that has no merit.

Our suggestion, fix what is wrong and move on.

If the Township wants mosquito abatement, put it out for bid as the law requires.

If the focus is going to be that of fault finding without ever focusing on the peoples business or your own failures, please resign.

While some seem to insist on focusing on criminal prosecutions, I suggest they read the Federal Pattern Jury instructions:

Federal Pattern Jury instructions – “ A person acts knowingly if he realizes what he is doing and is aware of the nature of his conduct, and does not act through ignorance, mistake, or accident.  In deciding whether the defendant acted knowingly, you may consider all of the evidence, including what the defendant did or said.”

One thing we have come to know, most newly elected public official’s improper actions are that of ignorance, mistake, and in some cases accident.

The accident issue is of interest and I will close with an example.

The Highway Code outlines 4 items that require bidding.  This is how the example was expressed to me:

“Except for professional services, when the cost of construction materials, supplies, new machinery or equipment exceeds $20,000,”

Did you catch it?   

A person who read the actual law believed it to read as printed above.

However, after discussion with them, I let them know they are overlooking a comma after the word construction.

The law actually reads:

 Except for professional services, when the cost of construction, materials, supplies, new machinery or equipment exceeds $20,000, – (construction-comma-materials, thus not construction materials but rather construction or materials, independent of each other.)

So a person who failed to bid out construction made a mistake because he thought it said “construction materials” not construction or materials.

Since he was not buying construction materials, he found no reason to bid out the actual construction.

He made a mistake.

Stay tuned for Cruise-gate!

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Comments

Dillon’s Rule Would Seem to Preclude Township Mosquito Abatement — 12 Comments

  1. “but it still seems unfair that I am taxed to provide benefit others.”

    So how many kids ya got in dist 155 Cal?

    The Dog’s like to quote cash law to prove their points, so where is the case law that says townships can’t spray for mosquito’s?

  2. Kirk said: “Legal questions, in our opinion, need to be answered in writing to include statutes and case law to support the opinion. Anything less is nothing but lip service.”

  3. I believe you do not understand Dillon’s Rule.

    In Illinois a local government, if it is not a Home Rule unit, is not authorized to do anything not authorized by state statute.

  4. **Of interest in this attempt to once again find fault instead of fixing things**

    Ah, the irony.

  5. Nob, regarding your question to Cal on 155.

    Road district providing mosquito abatement services makes just as much sense as d155 provideing mosquito abatement services to Cals area or the library district dong same for my area.

    This is what happens when a long term fiefdom like millers is allowed to fester unchecked with the assistance of those who are supposed to be keeping watch.

    The current and past township board is complicit and knows it.

    You cry foul on Gasser but without him we would continue to have boss hog miller and the current board, treating the township as his personal kingdom.

    Shameful that Rachel seeing a political advantage (possibly road district leadership goals?) now leading the charge.

    The louder the cry’s from the machine towards gasser the more exposed they become.

    Keep crying foul, in the meantime to your point I’m going to ask my local library district why they aren’t proving animal control services.

  6. Why are we talking about highway code relative to mosquito abatement?

    As Kirk states: “Never mind the fact TOWNSHIPS can spray, not road districts. ”

    So, one crime is that the Road District did not have an IGA with the Township and the other crime is failing to send it out for bid because it was more than $1,000?

    IGAs are in my opinion for the most part simply another requirement to increase the size of government under the guise of transparency and accountability.

    IGAs became a so-called necessity because the “dumbed down” voters keep electing some devious lying people.

    Townships are allowed to engage in mosquito abatement as per:

    “(60 ILCS 1/85-13)
    Sec. 85-13. Township services, generally.
    (a) The township board may either expend funds directly or may enter into any cooperative agreement or contract with any other governmental entity, not-for-profit corporation, non-profit community service association, or any for-profit business entity as provided in subsection (b) with respect to the expenditure of township funds, or funds made available to the township under the federal State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972, to provide any of the following services to the residents of the township:
    (1) Ordinary and necessary maintenance and operating
    expenses for the following:
    (A) Public safety (including law enforcement, fire protection, and building code enforcement).
    (B) Environmental protection (including sewage disposal, sanitation, and pollution abatement).
    (C) Public transportation (including transit systems, paratransit systems, and streets and roads).
    (D) Health.
    (E) Recreation.
    (F) Libraries.
    (G) Social services for the poor and aged.
    (2) Ordinary and necessary capital expenditures authorized by law.
    (3) Development and retention of business, industrial, manufacturing, and tourist facilities within the township.

    (b) To be eligible to receive funds from the township under this Section, a private not-for-profit corporation or community service association shall have been in existence at least one year before receiving the funds. The township board may, however, for the purpose of providing day care services, contract with day care facilities licensed under the Child Care Act of 1969, regardless of whether the facilities are organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.”

    Mosq1uito abatement would be a health issue.

    Insofar as the comment: “treating the township as his personal kingdom.” You can thank some of your local Legislators (past and present) for passing Legislation in Springfield to make the position of Highway Commissioner a dictatorship.

    Now you have the same caliber of Legislators trying to pass Legislation which will inevitably result in higher taxes.

    I totally agree with “fix what is wrong and move on.” This penchant for finding fault and screaming it from the roof tops does nothing but increase my tax bill. Oh, it does help sell newspapers which do nothing to reduce my tax bill.

  7. Alabamashake, no irony at all if you use the whole quote instead of just a snippet to support your narrative.

    Taking one part of an entire section and ignoring the rest is what your local media has become masters of.

    So there is no confusion, the actual quote is:

    “Of interest in this attempt to once again find fault instead of fixing things, is the multiple faults identified to include those of Bob Miller, Andrew Gasser, the entire Board of Trustees, the Supervisor, and the attorney watching this all take place, meeting after meeting.”

  8. I had one until three years ago and I did graduate from Crystal Lake Community High School.

  9. So it is very interesting to me that mosquito spraying has come up.

    I live in LITH section 12B unincorporated with non-dedicated roads, Crystal Creek surrounding the neighborhood on one side, the creek that is fed from Vulcan lakes out of the material plant on the other side, and we are a FEMA floodway.

    With that being said the mosquitoes get get really really bad over here, and I have a 10 y/o daughter in which the the little pests love to feast on to the point were a few times I couldn’t even let her play outside near the end of the summer.

    Previous years when Bob Miller ran the Road district we were sprayed for mosquitoes, when they started getting bad I called Andrew Gasser and asked when they would be spraying. he explained that due to my road being “Non-dedicated” that he could not perform the service because my road was not part of the Road District.

    I called Chuck Lutzow he had no other information to help me other than a suggestion to try calling McHenry County, which I did, I spoke with a gentleman who’s name I wish I wrote down, but he was going to look into my questions and get back to me and never did.

    My stance is that while my road is non-dedicated and I receive no assistance from the Road District because my road is not a Road District road, a simple concept that I can accept, however my property and neighborhood is part of the Township, what do mosquitoes have to do with my broken apart dilapidated, crumbling road?

    Short answer, nothing.

    I was able to find out by calling other townships that if you qualify for mosquito spraying you need to have a line item on your TAX bill to pay for it.

    We’ve all heard about the 7000 layers of government, well the Abatement District is one of them.

    I reached out to at least 1 dozen people I know who live in unincorporated ALG Township on Dedicated roads that received mosquito spraying this summer and asked them to take a peek at their tax bill to see if they had a line item for mosquito spraying, and none of them did.

    So people who paid the exact same amount of township taxes that I do received more services than I do because my road is non dedicated.

    The best part is when the spraying took place it was done via helicopter, so the roads never came into play.

    The township is providing services that are not paid for by the people, then choosing who gets them and who doesn’t.

    Seems like I should have some sort of Civil complaint, but what I really want is to be sprayed for mosquitoes.

    If someone has any other information or can determine that I an mis-informed I am happy to listen.

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