Not so fast: Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser gives defense of County Clerk and applicable case law from Kane County case affirmed on Appeal
As previously reported on McHenry County Blog last Friday, the issue of Kane County Clerk John A. “Jack” Cunningham, with advice from the Kane County State’s Attorney Office (KCSAO), refusing to extend the tax levy to fund the two referendum questions for 708 township mental health boards for Dundee and Elgin townships, came to a head Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Wednesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Dundee Township Board of Trustees was the first meeting after the April 6 election, when incumbent Supervisor Trish Glees (I, West Dundee) lost her reelection bid as a Democrat. The meeting was also the first public meeting since County Clerk Cunningham’s decision to not extend the levy.
At the ZOOM township meeting, over 50 speakers spoke, and additional correspondence read into the record.
The vast majority of speakers were advocates for the 708 Mental Health Board, and urged the Township Board to pursue litigation against County Clerk Cunningham.
After all of the public comment, Glees moved to go immediately into executive session to discuss the pending litigation.
After the meeting reconvened about half hour later, the motion was made to Approve to take Minimal Legal Action against the Kane County Clerk.
The vote of the 5-member board was 3 yeas (Glees, George Johnson and Sue Harney), 1 nay (Richard Ahrens) and 1 abstention (Ken Schaffer).
Two of the 3 votes in favor of litigation were from board members who will leave the board next month (Glees, Johnson). So the 3-1-1 vote to pursue the litigation included two lame duck members.
After the vote, Glees said she would begin working on the litigation Thursday with the township attorney.
The video of last night’s Township Board meeting is not yet available for public view.
Enter the Kane County Board
By fluke of the calendar with the 3rd Wednesday and the 4th Thursday falling on successive days, the regular monthly meeting of the Kane County Public Service Committee, which oversees several offices including the county clerk, met at 9AM Thursday morning.
The Committee is chaired by Verner Tepe (D, Elgin), who was elected to the County Board last November, and prior to his election, served on the Elgin Township Board of Trustees.
As a township trustee, he approved placement of the Elgin Township 708 Mental Health Board on the March, 2020 ballot, where it was approved. Tepe resigned from the township prior to taking office at the county.
During public comment, the Committee was advised of the Dundee Township Board’s action the previous night approving the pursuit of litigation against the county.
The county clerk was represented at the Committee meeting by one of his subordinates, and the county clerk’s report was late in the meeting.
During the report of the treasurer’s office, the Committee was informed that 2020 property tax bills, payable in 2021, were at the printer and would be mailed out on April 30, payments due June 1 and September 1.
Meaning, even if Dundee Township was successful at litigation it was too late to include the tax extension for payment at the first installment due date.
By the time the county clerk’s portion had been reported with discussion about Elgin and Dundee townships issues deferred, Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser (D, St. Charles) had arrived in person at the County Board’s Committee meeting, to give her office’s input.
The Committee, on a divided vote, went into executive session to discuss the pending litigation.
After a little over a half hour the Committee reconvened.
Chairman Tepe asked State’s Attorney Mosser to give her opening statement from executive session in open session, for the record.
The video from the Committee meeting’s live stream is cued immediately following the return from executive session. While the ZOOM frames for the Committee meeting not best quality, the audio of Mosser’s remarks, lasting a little over 2 1/2 minutes, is crucial:
After Mosser’s input, Kane County Board Chairman Corinne Pierog (D, Batavia) addressed the Committee for nearly 2 minutes.
Her input, noting once the potential litigation from Dundee Township and possibly Elgin Township are settled, sent clear message a Kane Countywide 708 Mental Health referendum could be on the 2022 primary ballot.
As Mosser cited during her remarks, the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) was adjudicated and set a legal precedent for the county clerk denying a tax extension for a levy not using the PTELL language.
The suit was a Kane County case from 2015: Hampshire Township Road District v. John A. Cunningham, in his Official Capacity as the Kane County Clerk. Here are the main events of the suit:
- Township annual meeting held a referendum by petition at the 2014 annual town meeting, levying permanent road tax (PRT). Meeting, attended by 19 electors, unanimously approved the referendum.
- County clerk refused to implement the levy from the annual town meeting referendum of 2014.
- Hampshire Township Road District filed suit on April 24, 2015.
- County clerk moved for summary judgement on June 4, 2015.
- Clerk’s summary judgement granted on August 13, 2015.
- Road district appealed to the 2nd District Appellate Court in Elgin on June 9, 2016.
- Appellate Court Affirmed the Circuit Court ruling of summary judgement for the Kane County clerk on August 1, 2016.
McHenry County Blog believes in full context, so the entire Appellate Court ruling can be viewed here.