Cook County Passes Debt Disclosure Ordinance
September 29, 2009
On September 1, 2009 the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the “Taxing District Debt Disclosure Ordinance.” Within the past week, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office has mailed notices to Cook County taxing districts with information about the ordinance and instructions for complying with its purported requirements.
The terms of the ordinance require each taxing district to file with the County Treasurer’s Office on or before the last Tuesday in December an electronic copy of the most recent audited financial statement as well as separate statements of the taxing district’s debts and liabilities, gross property tax levy for the most recent year, and gross operating budget revenue for the most recent fiscal year. The Treasurer’s Office will then make this information available on its website and advertise the existance of the website on all property tax bills.
The County asserts that it has the authority to require this disclosure from other taxing agencies based on the County’s home rule powers and the Treasurer’s collection of property taxes. However, we are not aware of any provision of the School Code or the Property Tax Code that would require Illinois school districts to submit this information to the County, and existing case law calls into question the County’s ability to require this report through its home rule powers. Finally, the new ordinance contains no enforcement or penalty provisions. Thus, there are substantial issues with this ordinance.
- Brian P. Crowley
- Ares G. Dalianis
- Scott R. Metcalf