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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Home Rule Village Had Authority to Remove Library Trustee

In Illinois, state statute has established a number of distinct forms of public libraries, including library districts and municipal public libraries. The Village of Downers Grove, a home rule municipality operating as a commission form of government, has a municipal library that was established by the Illinois Local Library Act. Pursuant to that Act, the Village council appointed members to the library board for six year terms. When one of those members was removed by the Village council prior to the expiration of his term, he sued, claiming that the removal violated state law and exceeded the Village's home rule powers. In Jaros v. Village of Downers Grove, 2017 IL App (2d) 170758, the appellate court upheld the Village council's decision to remove the board member.

The Local Library Act details how members are appointed to a library board. For example, in a city, the mayor, with the approval of the city council, appoints the members of the library board. In a town, township, or village not under the commission form of government, the board members are elected. In a village under the commission form of government, like Downers Grove, the village council is the appointing authority. 

With respect to removal of municipal library board members, the Local Library Act is not as definitive. Section 4-1.1(b) of the Local Library Act provides that the mayor in a city is authorized to remove a library board trustee. The Act does not expressly state the process for removal of a library trustee in a village operating under the commission form of government. However, the Downers Grove Village Code did include provisions detailing how appointed officers on boards and commissions can be removed from their positions. It was that language that the Downers Grove Village Council relied on in removing plaintiff from his position as library board trustee. 

Plaintiff argued that the Village exceeded its home rule authority in removing him from the library board on a number of bases. He argued that the removal violated the Local Library Act and required referendum approval because the Village was changing the form of government by establishing a removal process by local ordinance. He also argued that the Village exceeded its home rule powers.

The appellate court disagreed with plaintiff. First, the court held that the Village, as a home rule municipality, had the authority to establish a removal process by local ordinance. As a result, there was no need to go to referendum. Second, the court found no inconsistency with the village's removal process and state statute, so the village was not preempted. Finally, the court rejected plaintiffs' constitutional claim that he was deprived of his liberty and property interests by being removed from his position.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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