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Any township law experts out there?

Here’s an arcane legal question for you. In my last post, I mentioned that George Jacob resides in Medina Township, not Peoria Township. That got me thinking. How can Jacob be a Peoria Township trustee if he lives in Medina Township?

It’s kind of confusing, because the state law is unclear to me. The Town of the City of Peoria falls under the “Township within a city” section of the state’s Township Code (60 ILCS):

(60 ILCS 1/15‑50)
Sec. 15‑50. Powers exercised by city council. All the powers vested in the township described in Section 15‑45, including all the powers now vested by law in the highway commissioners of the township and in the township board of the township, shall be exercised by the city council.

And it says something similar under the “Township board” section:

(60 ILCS 1/80‑5)
Sec. 80‑5. Township board membership; officers.
(b) In towns organized under Article 15, all the powers vested by law in the township board shall be exercised by the city council.

So that’s pretty straightforward. However, elsewhere in the code there is a section called “Qualification and tenure of township officers,” and it says:

(60 ILCS 1/55‑5)
Sec. 55‑5. Legal voter and resident. No person is eligible to hold any office unless he or she is a legal voter and has been a resident of the township for one year.

So, do the first two sections I quoted trump the last one? Or does the qualification section apply to members of the city council in a “Township within a city”? The issue is this: If there’s no residency requirement, then you could potentially have a situation where six members of the council and the mayor could end up living in the City, but not the Town, of Peoria. That would mean a majority of the Peoria Township trustees wouldn’t even be Peoria Township residents. That would be a strange form of representative government, wouldn’t it?

Someone may well ask, so what? What’s the big deal? Well, it’s not really a big deal, I guess, in terms of money. The township collects only 0.13659% of property tax bills, which comes out to about $38.70 for the owner of a $100,000 home. But then, if you were to have a majority of trustees someday with no personal stake in the township, that cost could go up. Basically, it’s a question of compliance with state law and, ultimately, the principle of appropriate representation of taxpayers.

One more thing: I have nothing against George Jacob. I supported him in the at-large election and I still support him for city council. I think he’s doing good work. This isn’t a personal attack, just a question about how the law works and whether this practice is in the best interests of the citizens or not.

7 comments to Any township law experts out there?

  • mdd

    Eliminating the township would be in the best interests of all Peorians who have to pay the township tax.

  • s

    Eliminating Townships is an idea of extreme merit in an area that is rapidly being urbanized.

    I sense Medina Township is an old boys network of rural and small city folk (i.e. chillicothe)who resent the new suburbs of Dunlap and the ensuing traffic problems. The village of Alta is experiencing major problems but it is far from clear that Township officials wish to make improvements.

    A clean sweep of Township government and a replacement by leaders who can deal with rapid urbanization will solve many problems in future decades. Existing Township Goverment appears to prefer to impede progress instead of guide develpoment for better, long term achievements.

    Does anyone know when and how a citizen can elect new Medina township officials?

  • Precinct Committeeman

    Since Jacob is on the council and has charge of Peoria Township duties as per state statute which you cited, it does make any difference where he gets his mail as long as the city limits are included in his address.

  • Precinct Committeeman

    add “not” before the word make

  • Precinct Committeeman, I suspect you’re probably right. But I think that law should be changed. I would be in favor of just doing away with township government altogether, but short of that, they should not allow the city council to double as township trustees if the city is not coterminous with the township. Otherwise, as I pointed out above, you could end up with a majority of your township trustees not even residing in the township.

  • JFD

    The City of Peoria used to be coterminous, i.e., the borders of the Township of Peoria moved as the City annexed property in other townships. That finally changed after a fuss with Willow Knolls Court shopping center and Kickapoo Township.

    I cannot fathom how someone who does not live in a township could possibly be considered eligible to govern that township. Jacobs should take a break in the hallway when township business is being conducted.

  • JFD

    Also, the City of Chillicothe is not part of Medina Township. Medina Township has historically done a great job for its residents, with the exception of a few years when there were a few yahoos in office that recently were voted out. The snow removal and other services are top-notch, far above what Peoria sees.