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Legal/Legislative Scene

Governor Edgar Clarifies the Tax Cap

by Peter M. Murphy IAPD General Counsel

Governor Edgar 
Clarifies the Tax Cap

GOVERNOR APPROVES DEBT CLARIFICATION

On August 18, 1995, Governor Jim Edgar fulfilled his commitment to park districts and forest preserves by signing a clarification to the property tax cap which permits the issuance of limited tax bonds. Governor Edgar, the legislative leadership in both houses, and those members of the General Assembly who supported Senate Bill 368 are to be commended for their responsible and conservative action.

The passage of Senate Bill 368 puts common sense back into the application of the tax cap and provides local government with the much needed flexibility to maintain its infrastructure.

Congratulations as well to each of you involved in parks and recreation who took the time and made the effort to articulate your views on this issue to the Illinois General Assembly.

Your leadership and persistence has made the difference in this major victory.

Senate Bill 368 is effective immediately and can now be referenced as Public Act 89-385.

EARLY RETIREMENT

The IMRF Early Retirement Incentive for all local government except cities and villages was signed into law by Governor Jim Edgar on August 17, 1995, and can be referenced as Public Act 89-329.

Features of the IMRF Early Retirement Program are as follows:

The IMRF Early Retirement Incentive (ERI) is a permanent part of the IMRF benefit program.

It is a tool eligible IMRF employers can use, if and when they need it, to save fringe benefits and payroll costs by providing an incentive for long-term members to retire. Employers are encouraged to either:

(i) replace no more than 80% of members electing to retire under the program, or

(ii) reduce replacement staff salaries to no more than 80% of current salary levels.

Eligible members can purchase between one month and five years of age and service credit for the purpose of determining retirement benefits.

The legislation provides flexibility for employers by allowing the employer to determine the timing of member terminations. Members may terminate up to a year from the effective date of the employer's ERI program. However, if a member requests to retire before July 1 he or she will be eligible to receive the following year's Supplemental Benefit Payment ("13th check"), the employer must allow the member to do so.

The employer cost of adopting the ERI can be paid over a period of no less than five years and no more than 10 years. An employer cannot adopt later ERI programs until the cost of the previous ERI is paid in full. Please note: the effective date for the second ERI program can be no sooner than six years from the effective date of the first ERI program.

If an employer adopts the program, the ERI applies to all IMRF members, including elected officials participating in IMRF.

Any questions on the Early Retire-

10* Illinois Parks & Recreation * September/October 1995


ment Incentive can be directed either to the IAPD offices or your IMRF service representative at 1-800-275-4673.

GUBERNATORIAL ACTION

In other action the following bills were signed into law:

HOUSE

House Bill 340, which changes the reporting requirements under the Statements of Receipts and Disbursements, was signed into law on August 17, 1995, as Public Act 89-326. This legislation permits the listing of all monies paid as compensation and personal services to be reported categorically by salary levels. This bill does not have an immediate effective date and therefore, will not affect those districts which must report before January 1. 1996.

House Bill 597 creates the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority to facilitate and promote the use of the Joliet Arsenal and authorizes, with the approval of the Governor, the power to issue up to $100 million in revenue bonds. House Bill 597 can be referenced as Public Act 89-333.

House Bill 661 requires the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, upon the request of units of local government, to determine whether a public act constitutes a mandate and if it does, to calculate the statewide cost of implementation even if no appropriation has been made. House Bill 661 can be referenced as Public Act 89-304.

House Bill 1465 abolishes the Board of Tax Appeals in Cook County and replaces it with a Board of Review, effective January 1, 1996, and provides that taxes, assessments and levies shall be presumed to be correct but that the presumption is rebuttable. House Bill 1465 can be referenced as Public Act 89-126.

House Bill 1498 amends the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act to prohibit legislators from accepting honoraria. It requires that units of local government that set their officers compensation do so at least 180 days before their terms begin. House Bill 1498 was placed on the Calendar Amendatory Veto on 11/1/95.

House Bill 1853 requires the State Treasurer to develop, publish, and implement an investment policy covering the management of funds in the Public Treasurers' Investment Pool. House Bill 1853 can be referenced as Public Act 89-350.

SENATE

Senate Bill 133 amends the property tax code to make Cook County subject to the code's open space valuation procedures. Senate Bill 133 can be referenced as Public Act 89-037.

Senate Bill 711 amends the downstate forest preserve district act to allow the creation of an endowment fund for long-term improvements and acquisition of land. The fund may receive monies only from private sources except for those received as a result of agreements obligating the district to long-term maintenance of improvements constructed on district lands. Senate Bill 711 can be referenced as Public Act 89-119.

Senate Bill 907 amends the Public Official ProhibitedActivitiesAct to permit an elected county, municipal or township official to hold elected office in another unit of local government as long as there is no contractual relationship between the two units of local government. In addition, to permit a board of a forest preserve district located in a county of less than 400,000 to sell a parcel of land and requires the proceeds of such sale to be used only for the district's future land acquisitions. Senate Bill 907 can be referenced as Public Act 89-89.

OPEN MEETINGS ACT

Every year a number of amendments to the Open Meetings Act are introduced into the Illinois General Assembly and 1995 was no exception. This year to the Open Meetings Act changes took place in Senate Bill 830 which can be cited as Public Act 89-86. The amendments provide that an agenda for each regular meeting must be posted at the meeting location as well as at the principal office of the governmental entity. In addition, an important clarification to the act was made through an amendment that provided that discussions of the issue of whether or not a particular parcel of property should be acquired does not need to be held as part of a public meeting. In addition, it was clarified that a closed meeting may be held.

VETO SESSION

Most of the legislation sent to Governor Jim Edgar was signed into law with only 24 bills being amendatory vetoed and only 12 bills receiving a total veto.

It is therefore likely that the veto session will be an abbreviated one with few new matters being considered. The veto session is scheduled for a perfunctory day on October 20,1995, and regular session days on November 1, 2, and 3 and then on November 14, 15, and 16.

NATIONAL ISSUES

The stateside appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) have been eliminated by House and Senate action approving H.R. 1977. This represents a major defeat for NRPA and its members and could signal an end to federal assistance in the development of recreational opportunities for most Americans. During its 30-year history, LWCF state assistance has aided conservation of 6.3 million acres of land, development of 28,000 recreation facilities and fostered a broad array of partnerships.

The House and Senate are expected to quickly begin deliberations over recreation, park, and other spending priorities for fiscal year 1996 when they return September 5-6. President Clinton has stated his opposition to many provisions of H.R. 1977 and has threatened a veto.

Illinois Parks & Recreation * September/October 1995 * 11


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