The Lack of Understanding of Dillon’s Rule

Mike Skala

In the Committee of the Whole Meeting of the McHenry County Board Thursday, I was astounded at a statement that Finance Committee Chairman Mike Skala made.

He said there “has to be statutes saying we can’t do it, a statute, then we can do it.”

It’s at 1:16 on the tape.

Skala was referring to taking part of the huge Valley Hi Nursing Home surplus (still approaching $40 million), accumulated by overtaxation by prior Boards, to lower taxes next year.

For those who do not know what Dillon’s Rule is, I encourage you to take a look at one or more of the items listed on Google.

In short, it says just the opposite of what Skala said.

A non-Home Rule unit cannot do anything that is not specifically allowed by state law.

A Home Rule unit–like Woodstock, Lake in the Hills, Barrington Hills, Huntley or Crystal Lake–can do anything not prohibited by state law.

McHenry County is not a Home Rule Unit.

Jack Franks

Chairman Jack Franks points to this sentence from 55 ILCS 5/5-2001:

“Provided, any surplus that may remain after the payment of all demands against said fund, may be used for other purposes.”

This is in a section referring to a referendum allowing a government to exceed the Tax Cap, if I read it correctly.

That there was no authority to pull money out of the nursing home fund was recognized by the County Board a couple of years ago when such a request was put in the County Board’s legislative package.

Perhaps one or more of the attorneys who read McHenry County Blog will provide input.


The Lack of Understanding of Dillon’s Rule — 1 Comment

  1. It would appear that the County Board chair and his cohorts of intimidation are setting up the Board for another lawsuit to make more money for his Attorney buddies (fellow intimidators).

    This is the sentence I believe Cal is referring to (Skala – read!) “Counties and municipalities which are not home rule units shall have only powers granted to them by law”


    Counties and municipalities which are not home rule units
    shall have only powers granted to them by law and the powers

    (1) to make local improvements by special assessment and to
    exercise this power jointly with other counties and
    municipalities, and other classes of units of local
    government having that power on the effective date of this
    Constitution unless that power is subsequently denied by law
    to any such other units of local government;

    (2) by referendum, to adopt, alter or repeal their forms of
    government provided by law;

    (3) in the case of municipalities, to provide by referendum for
    their officers, manner of selection and terms of office;

    (4) in the case of counties, to provide for their officers, manner of selection
    and terms of office as provided in Section 4 of this Article;

    (5) to incur debt except as limited by law and except that
    debt payable from ad valorem property tax receipts shall
    mature within 40 years from the time it is incurred; and

    (6) to levy or impose additional taxes upon areas within their
    boundaries in the manner provided by law for the provision of
    special services to those areas and for the payment of debt
    incurred in order to provide those special services.
    (Source: Illinois Constitution.)”

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