Annual Town Meeting
(April 7, 2020) By law, each Illinois township must hold an Annual Town Meeting on the second Tuesday in April. This year that meeting date would have been April 14th or 21st.
However, on April 7th, the Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) received Executive Order 2020-22 from Governor J.B. Pritzker stating that:
Section1: The provisions of the Township Code, 60 ILCS 1/30-5(a) and 30-5(b), requiring that each township’s annual meeting for calendar year 2020 be held on either April 14, 2020 or April 21, 2020 are SUSPENDED through the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation.
TOI will update everyone on applicable instructions to hold the meeting at a later date. You can find more details on this issue at the TOI website.
Property Tax Cycle
A few counties might experience a delay in the property tax cycle:
As we work through our current lifestyle, questions come up on how to handle necessary processes that keep our personal and public lives moving forward. As a result, a question was recently asked on how a few counties are planning to handle public appeals driven by delayed property assessment notices. This question only applies to a few counties that have yet to publish their 2019 property assessment change notices. Most counties completed this process in the fall of 2019. These counties will not be impacted by the current restrictions in place due to COVID 19.
Those few counties preparing to publish notices in the next few weeks, will likely need to consider a creative approach to hear landowner appeals. Once the assessment notices are published, property owners have the right to file an assessment appeal with the county Board of Review (BOR). This due process cannot be dismissed. With the current social distancing and limited government services, it’s unlikely these counties will be able to conduct the standard appeal process.
Each of these counties will have to determine the best method to handle appeals. This might mean postponing the appeal process until the current restrictions are lifted. In that case, hearings, property tax bills and payments will be delayed.
*This is important! property owners will likely still have to file their appeal within 30 days of the assessment notices being published. Once filed, the BOR will schedule the actual hearing for a later date.
Your GAC staff is interested in hearing from you on how these counties are managing this process.
Relaxed Open Meetings Act Requirements for Local Units of Government
Due to public health concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments are postponing non-essential meetings and implementing procedures for “hosting” those meeting considered essential. Opportunities to hold these essential meetings have been made possible under the gubernatorial disaster proclamation and Executive Order which, in part, relaxes meeting requirements under the Open Meetings Act (OMA).
The OMA is one of Illinois’ sunshine laws that ensures meetings, actions, and deliberations of public bodies, including local units of government, are conducted openly, accommodate public attendance, and allow for public comment.
The OMA also requires a quorum of the members of a public body be physically present at the meeting location.
To limit public gatherings and violations to the OMA the current Executive Order encourages local governments to postpone business when possible, including non-essential meetings.
When a until of local government determines it must hold a meeting, the Executive Order suspends the requirements for public, in-person attendance and the presents of a “physical quorum” by allowing for remote participation.
Under the Executive Order local governments must still find ways for these remote meeting to be accessible to the public and press. They must also provide opportunity for public comment.
These “virtual” meetings can employ a combination of video, audio and telephonic access. Local governments can also consider taking public comments by email or written submission. Those comments can then be read at the public meeting.
Where possible, local governments should also provide frequent updates on their website and consider outreach through social media.
Putting these measures in place creates opportunities for local governments to move forward during this challenging public health emergency while still maintaining a degree of transparency and public involvement.