On December 23, 2015, the Illinois Second District Appellate Court issued an opinion holding that the City of Crystal Lake’s home rule voting procedures trumped the voting procedures set forth in the Illinois Municipal Code.

The case involved a tax objection challenging the validity of the City’s tax levy ordinance for the tax year 2014 based on the tax levy ordinance only being passed by the City Council with a 3-2 vote.  The tax objectors argued that the Illinois Municipal Code required a concurrence of a majority of all members then holding office on the City Council to approve any ordinance, and that since the City Council was comprised of 7 members that three affirmative votes was insufficient to pass the tax levy ordinance.  The City argued, however, that it adopted Robert’s Rules of Order for all procedural matters and that  Robert’s Rules of Order required an affirmative majority of those voting to pass a measure, which requirement was satisfied with the 3-2 vote.  The Appellate Court agreed with the City and reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to the tax objections, thereby saving the City over $1.5 million in tax revenue.

The most interesting part of the opinion was the Appellate Court’s response to the tax objectors’ argument that the City had also adopted the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which again required a vote of a concurrence of a majority of all members then holding office and seemingly conflicted the voting requirement in Robert’s Rules of Order. The Appellate Court responded that the City’s adoption of the Illinois Compiled Statutes as a whole was “so broad as to be almost meaningless.”  The moral contained in this dicta is that many municipalities and local governments broadly adopt the provisions of the Illinois Municipal Code as did the City of Crystal Lake; however, it appears that doing so may just be a redundancy unless the municipality specifies the exact provisions they wish to adopt.

Jennifer J. Gibson

Author: Jennifer J. Gibson