Council members told to stay away from IARWC meetings

Council members told to stay away from IARWC

CARLINVILLE (Dec. 21, 2017) – The attorney for the Illinois Alluvial Regional Water Company, Inc. made it quite clear they do not want Carlinville City Council members interfering with their board meetings with a four-page letter read at Monday’s bi-monthly City of Carlinville council meeting.

Foreman and Kessler, Ltd., Attorneys at Law based in Salem is representing IARWC and is threatening to file criminal trespassing charges against any City of Carlinville council member who is not designated to attend as the board’s representative.

Carlinville is one entity who is seeking to start a non-for-profit water company to service the town’s customers. The Village of Dorchester and Jersey County Rural Water Company are also in on the formation of the company.

David M. Foreman of Foreman and Kessler in the letter wrote that Jersey County Rural Water Company is not a local unit of government, while the City of Carlinville and Village of Dorchester are units of local government.

He explains that while municipalities are subject to the Open Meetings Act, private not-for-profit corporations such as the IARWC and the JCRWC are not. Citing Article VII, Section 10 of the Illinois Constitution, it allows municipalities to join together and associate with private corporations in any manner not expressly prohibited by law

Cindy Campbell represents Carlinville on the IARWC board. In past meetings, councilmen Randy Bilbruck, Kim Heigert and Beth Toon have attended, which in turn led to the city violating the Open Meetings Act.

Foreman claims that having three members of the Carlinville council attending and debating whether the city should participate in the group was in violation of the Open Meetings Act and interfered with the normal flow of the meeting.

Bilbruck was not pleased with the findings, stating he did not say one word during the meeting.

“Under the previous attorney’s guidance, it was an open meeting in Jerseyville,” Bilbruck said. “At that meeting, I said not one word. It’s on video.”

Bilbruck attended because he had not been updated on the status of what was going on with the newly formed company.

“I wanted to observe privately, quietly to see what is going on,” Bilbruck said. “I take offense that I disrupted a meeting that I said not one word at the meeting. It was an open meeting under the previous council guidance of our previous council.”

Campbell said she will provide updates and keep the council up to date on what transpires in future IARWC meetings.

Toon at the IARWC meeting said she asked if she could ask a question, and all she did was try to see if Gillespie had been notified that Dorchester was now an entity of the IARWC.

“I asked a question – I asked if I was allowed to ask a question,” Toon said. “I simply asked the representative from Dorchester that I was surprised to see sitting at the table, if they had voted in Dorchester to do that. Nothing to do with Carlinville’s business.”

Heigert was not present at the city council meeting Monday night.

Foreman stated that the three entities formed the company to “achieve an economy of scale with respect to the provision of water services that any one acting alone could not accomplish.”

He added that the city of Carlinville has every right to join IARWC.

“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,” Foreman stated in the letter. Consequently, pleased be advised that henceforth, all members of your City Council, other than your appointed representative, are prohibited form attending our meetings.”

A notice will be posted at the building of the Jersey County Rural Water Company where the meetings are held, that those persons may not enter. Any violation will be reported to local law enforcement, and criminal trespass proceedings will be enforced and prosecuted as such.

The council voted to have the letter placed on file as read.

In other business, the council placed on file the Macoupin County Cruisers asking permission to hold their annual car show/school fundraiser July 28, 2018. They are asking to have the interior of the square and the first block of East Main St. blocked off following the Rotary Ice Cream Social the previous Friday evening.

The council also approved placing on file a request for approving a 5K run within the Carlinville city limits by the Carlinville High School Band Boosters.

The route has been reviewed by city police. The event will take place May 19 at 8 a.m. starting and ending at the Carlinville Plaza.