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 1/15â€‘50)
Sec. 15â€‘50. Powers exercised by city council. All the powers vested in the township described in Section 15â€‘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 1/80â€‘5)
Sec. 80â€‘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 1/55â€‘5)
Sec. 55â€‘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.