MP Village attorney: New committees operating legally

By on July 30, 2009

Trustees will vote on formal ordinance to establish them
by Martha Quetsch
Maple Park—New village committees that Maple Park President Kathy Curtis formed after being elected in April have been meeting even though the Village Board has not approved an ordinance formally creating the committees.

“The new committees have been working, as our legal counsel advised that we could,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

The Village Board will vote on the official ordinance establishing the village’s three new committees at its next meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 4, Curtis said.

Curtis in May reduced the number of village committees from six to three, with the goal of streamlining work on village issues. The board planned to pass an ordinance July 7 changing the committees’ number, but because of an oversight by village officials, the ordinance was not prepared for the meeting, Curtis said.

Also during the July 7 meeting, trustee Terry Borg asked the village attorney, Pat Bond, whether the new committees could legally operate before the board approves the ordinance.

Bond said they could legally operate only if they were “special committees.” Since that meeting, a lawyer for Bond’s firm, Bond Dixon and Associates, informed Curtis in a letter July 9 that the three new committees arguably are special committees.

“Assuming the trustee members of the new committees were appointed by the Village President as provided in 1-5-6 of the Maple Park Village Code, the committees are arguably special committees and therefore could continue to function as such until the ordinance formally establishing them is adopted,” the lawyer, Keith Letsche said.

The new committees are Personnel and Communications; Finance, Public Relations and Development; and Infrastructure.

Among tasks that the new committees face includes finding and recommending a new police chief, which will be the work of the Personnel and Communications Committee: Curtis wants that to happen by Sept. 9.

The village previously had six committees: Finance, Streets, Water and Sewer, Parks and Grounds, Police and Planning.

In the letter to Curtis, Letsche also stated that any attempt to legally challenge the actions of the three new committees, on the grounds that the ordinance providing for them had not yet be adopted, would likely be unsuccessful. The reason is the creation of committees is not required or provided for by state statute, but is wholly discretionary, and committees do not take final actions on board or council matters, Letsch added.