IASB Amicus Program Supports School District in Illinois Supreme Court Case WinThe Amicus Program of the Illinois Association of School Boards supported member board of education Richland School District No. 88A in a significant victory before the Illinois Supreme Court involving the requirements of the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act (TIF Act).
IASB files Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in a limited number of important appellate-level cases that will have statewide significance. The Board of Education of Richland School District No. 88A reached out to IASB for support before the Illinois Supreme Court through IASB’s Amicus Program. IASB invited the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials to join the effort. All three associations filed an Amicus Brief to provide “a unique perspective or specific information that can assist the court beyond what the parties can provide.”
The issue in Board of Education of Richland School District No. 88A v. City of Crest Hill was whether strict adherence to the TIF Act is required in the formation of a TIF district, specifically the TIF Act’s requirement that parcels within a TIF district be “contiguous.” In this case, the City attempted to establish contiguity of two parcels by “jumping” a public utility right-of-way located between them.
The Richland School District No. 88A Board of Education, represented before the Illinois Supreme Court by attorney Howard Jablecki with the law firm of Klein, Thorpe, & Jenkins, argued that there is no statutory exception to the contiguity requirement of the TIF Act, and the City could not rely on a section of the Illinois Municipal Code which has a broader standard for contiguity that may include properties separated by a public utility right-of-way. The Court agreed that the City did not meet the TIF Act’s contiguity requirement because, borrowing from the standard set by the Court in prior municipal annexation cases, the parcels did not “touch or adjoin one another in a reasonably substantial physical sense.” The District also argued that the City had failed to properly follow the joint review board (JRB) process required by the TIF Act, which allows the affected taxing bodies to review and give advisory recommendations on the proposed TIF district. The court, however, did not reach that procedural issue in its decision.
The Amicus Brief supporting the Richland School District No. 88A Board of Education, written by attorneys Ares Dalianis and Caroline Kane with the law firm of Franczek P.C., made several key points, including:
- Tax revenues generated by TIF districts have increased dramatically over the past 20 years, diverting critical resources from Illinois public schools to TIF districts.
- Given this increase, “it is essential that the Courts hold municipalities to the strict requirements of the TIF Act so as to avoid a deleterious impact on K-12 public education.”
- The plain language of the TIF Act does not permit municipalities to create contiguity by “jumping” public utility rights-of-way.
- “Given the duration of a TIF district and the revenue that can be raised utilizing local government tax rates, strict adherence to the JRB process must be required.”
IASB extends a special thank you to Richland School District No. 88A, its attorney Howard Jablecki of Klein, Thorpe, & Jenkins, and IASB’s Amicus attorneys Ares Dalianis and Caroline Kane of Franczek P.C. for their collaboration to benefit all IASB members across Illinois.
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