Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Lawsuit says municipal funding of private water company is not legal

By Ann Maher | Feb 27, 2018


A lawsuit filed at Macoupin County circuit court last week claims that a private water company created by the city of Carlinville, village of Dorchester and Jersey County Rural Water Co.. and the public funding it receives. is not legal.

It also claims that the company, Illinois Alluvial Regional Water Co., has expressed its intent as a private entity to circumvent Illinois Sunshine laws such as the Open Meetings Act.

An exhibit attached to the complaint includes a letter written by an attorney for Illinois Alluvial to the city of Carlinville that says members of the City Council, other than its appointed representative, are "prohibited from attending our meetings."


Smallhorn

The letter specifically says that Carlinville council members Beth Toon, Randy Bilbruck and Kim Heigert "shall not enter the premises where the meetings of Illinois Alluvial Regional Water Company, Inc. are taking place."

"Simply put, I as the legal representative for Illinois Alluvial Regional Water Company, Inc., will not permit our meeting to be hijacked by certain members of your City Council to divert attention onto a tangent issue which is relevant only to a disgruntled faction of your board," wrote David M. Foreman of Foreman & Kessler in Salem. "Those matters must be vented in house, not at our meetings. Our meetings are to discuss the business of Illinois Alluvial Regional Water Company, Inc."

The suit says that Carlinville alderwoman Cindy Campbell is the appointed representative to Illinois Alluvial.

Carlinville residents Camille and Wayne Brotze are named plaintiffs in the suit filed Feb. 23 that claims Illinois Alluvial, incorporated Dec. 5 to provide water to communities in Macoupin, Greene, Jersey and Madison counties, lacks statutory authority to receive funding from the local governments without an intergovernmental agreement. It further claims that the local governments lack constitutional authority to provide funds to Illinois Alluvial.

The only shareholders of Illinois Alluvial are Carlinville, Dorchester and Jersey Rural.

According to the lawsuit, Carlinville has received USDA grant money for developing a water transmission system to serve a regional water commission and the city has appropriated USDA grant money and general revenue funds to Illinois Alluvial. But, plaintiffs say there is no intergovernmental agreement between Carlinville and Dorchester, and no contract between either municipality and Jersey Rural regarding the purpose, funding or operation of Illinois Alluvial.

"In derogation of Illinois Municipal Code... the ownership interests of Carlinville and Dorchester in Illinois Alluvial expose them to potential financial obligations for an unlimited duration so long as Illinois Alluvial remains in existence," the suit says.

Represented by attorney Jacob Smallhorn of Tapella & Eberspacher of Mattoon, the Brotzes are asking for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against public funding of Illinois Alluvial and a refund of all appropriated funds.

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Organizations in this Story

City of Carlinville City Council Edgar County Watchdogs Village of Dorchester