FAQ

General FAQ

This following questions and answers below have been drafted by the Township Officials of Illinois (TOI). They are to act as a guide to assist townships in performing their daily duties. The information contained herein should not be considered legal advice. It is advisory in nature. If you have specific legal questions, we encourage you to contact your township attorney. Click the below questions to see the answers.

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Question: Does the supervisor vote in votes taken by the township board?

Answer: Yes, the supervisor has a vote on all matters. The supervisor may make or second motions, participate in discussions on all matters and should exercise his/her voting power on all issues.

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Question: Can the township board tell the highway commissioner what to do?

Answer: No. A township road district is, in many aspects, a separate government. Neither the township board of trustees nor the township supervisor has any jurisdiction, or authority, over the highway commissioner and/or employees of the road district. The employees of the road district are subject to the directions and requirements set forth by the highway commissioner, not the township board. However, it has been demonstrated clearly that where the highway commissioner, the supervisor, the clerk and the township board work in harmony, the taxpayer usually benefits.

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Question: Can the township board refuse to pay a legally incurred bill for the road district?

Answer: No. The township board has an obligation to approve all legally incurred bills to the extent that there is an appropriation in the road district budget for the expenditure and that the proper order for payment has been submitted by the highway commissioner and countersigned by the township clerk. Conversely, the township board has an obligation to reject payment of any road district bills that are not legally incurred debts.

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Question: Must our township have a CPA audit each year?

Answer: That depends on the amount of revenue that your township receives each year. If your township receives revenues in a fiscal year of less than $850,000, exclusive of road funds, the annual audit may be done by an independent auditing committee composed of three township electors. If your township receives revenues of in a fiscal year of $850,000 or more, exclusive of road funds, you must have a CPA audit completed each year. Furthermore, a township receiving less than $850,000 during a fiscal year, must have all township accounts and records audited by a certified public accountant within six months after the end of each term of office of the township supervisor or if there is a vacancy in the office of supervisor during a term of office.

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Question: Can the road district and the township enter into an intergovernmental agreement whereby the road district could repair and maintain township owned facilities?

Answer: Yes, an intergovernmental agreement can be arranged for this situation. The agreement should spell out all of the details, including the work that is to be performed by the road district as well as the specifics of who is paying and when. I suggest that the township have an attorney review any agreement before it is approved to ensure that it was completed properly. Once the agreement has been signed, the road district may purchase supplies and utilize road district manpower for the purpose of conducting work on township facilities if these expenses are accounted for in the road district budget.

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Question: Is the three-year budget format mandatory?

Answer: No. Recommended by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Township and road districts may design their own format. State statute requirements are: Beginning balance, revenues, expenditures, ending balance.

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Question: Does the board of trustees adopt the highway commissioner budget?

Answer: Yes. Highway commissioner prepares the budget. Board of trustees adopt the budget. Board of trustees may change line item amounts in the budget.

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Question: Must the road district budget be adopted at the public hearing?

Answer: Yes the road district budget, or any portion the board deems necessary, must be adopted at the corresponding public hearing. Further, now the township budget may also be adopted at the public hearing.

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Question: Does the township and road district budgets have to be filed with the county clerk?

Answer: Yes. Within 30 days after adoption. Clerk certifies ordinance. Supervisor certifies estimate of revenues by source.

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Question: Are budget changes allowed by law?

Answer: Yes. Transfers are allowed between line items in same fund up to 10% of amount budgeted. Contingencies may be transferred to any line item in the same fund. Budget may be amended by following original adoption procedures.

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Question: Can the budget notice be published in the local shopper's guide to save money?

Answer: No. Clerk publishes notice in newspaper. Publish in township newspaper. No township newspaper, post in 5 most public places.

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Question: Is the maximum cash reserves allowed by law unlimited?

Answer: No. Court cases have allowed only about 200% of the average expenses over last three years. However, this amount may be hard to justify. DCEO recommends minimum cash reserve should be 6 months operating expense. A capital fund should be established to dedicate funds toward capital improvement as a part of the annual budget and appropriation ordinance for both the township and road district.

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Question: Can all property taxes be put into one fund?

Answer: No. Separate fund should be established for each levy. Separate bank accounts are not required. Accounting system must be able to maintain separate fund balances.

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Question: Must the tax levy ordinance be filed by the 1st Tuesday in December?

Answer: No. Last Tuesday in December. Tax levy ordinance is certified by the township clerk to the county clerk. Attach the applicable certificate of compliance with truth-in-taxation act signed by presiding officer, Click here for Truth-In-Taxation pamphlet.

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Question: Does the board of trustees adopt the road district levy?

Answer: Yes. Highway commissioner determines levy. Board of trustees must adopt levy.

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Question: Are township and road district tax levies combined for computation of the truth-in-taxation law and tax caps?

Answer: No. Township and road district are two separate governments. Permanent road levy is included for tax caps, but excluded for truth-in-taxation law.

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Question: Is the permanent road levy approved annually?

Answer: No. Approved by the electors at an annual or special town meeting or general election. Levied annually by the county clerk. Repealed by the electors.

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Question: Must the township levy .10% annually to qualify for state aid under the general assistance program?

Answer: No. The amount levied plus the unobligated balance must equal .10%. No levy is required if the unobligated balance exceeds .10%.

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Question: Does the truth-in-taxation law apply in tax cap counties?

Answer: Yes. New construction exceeds 5%. Township wants to receive maximum revenues.

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Question: Must the levy be determined 30 days prior to adoption?

Answer: Twenty (20) days for townships and road district outside of Cook County and is now twenty (20) days for townships and road district within Cook County.

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Question: Can the board of trustees make transfers from the general town fund to the road fund?

Answer: No. Board of trustees determine a surplus. Electors adopt a resolution authorizing transfer. Electors approve resolution at annual town meeting.

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Question: Can the road district obtain bridge aid from the State of Illinois without levying maximum taxes?

Answer: No. Levy road & bridge tax at .165% for two years at last known certified EAV. Levy joint bridge tax at .05% for two years at last known certified EAV. Transfers allowed from non-road district funds to meet joint bridge levy amount.

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Question: Can health insurance premiums be paid out of the insurance levy?

Answer: No. Liability insurance. Workmen's compensation insurance. Unemployment insurance. General insurance.

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Question: Do townships have to share their replacement tax with the township library?

Answer: Yes. Based on 1978 library taxes collected, divided by total taxes collected in 1978. Effective date for library is 10-01-83. Effective date for library districts is 01-01-88.

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Question: Do road districts have to share their replacement tax with municipalities?

Answer: Yes. 1) Multiply the total 1978 personal property equalized assessed valuation of the road district times the levy rate (rate from all road district levies) times the collection rate of personal property. 2) Multiply the personal property equalized assessed valuation of that portion of the municipality that is located in the road district's boundaries times the road and bridge levy rates times the municipal personal property collection rate. Divide this figure by two. 3) Divide the total in step 2 by total for step 1. This will give a percentage to be used as the municipality's portion. Multiply this percentage by each PPRT check from the State of Illinois.

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Question: How is the employer's share of social security costs paid?

Answer: Township and road district may levy a social security tax. The township must pay all employer costs for the elected officials and employees. The road district must pay all employer costs for its employees. A separate fund must be established if social security tax is levied.

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Question: How are total tax revenues calculated for a specific levy?

Answer: Maximum rate times the total equalized assessed valuation. Limited by truth-in-taxation law and tax caps.

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General Assistance FAQs

The Township Supervisors of Illinois (TSI) and the Maxine Schultz General Assistance Training Institute (GATI) are proud to offer a sampling of questions that will help supervisors in performing their duties regarding general assistance.

These questions and answers are not intended to be considered as legal advice. If you desire a legal opinion, we encourage you to contact your township attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is General Assistance?

Answer:  Monthly assistance to meet basic maintenance needs

Question:  How do I get started?

Answer:

  1. Make sure you have the current General Assistance Handbook 2009 (Flat Grant or Needs Allowance).

  2. Review it, especially Sections 6 and 9 to become familiar with the income and payment levels.

  3. Have a supply of applications on hand.

  4. Have a locked file for confidential files.

  5. Become familiar with the local food pantries and any social service agencies in your area.  Know who to contact if you need to make a referral.

  6. Let your local law enforcement agency know how to contact you if there is an emergency need.

Question:  What if someone calls me for assistance?

Answer:

  1. Ask them to fill out an application.  Everyone must be allowed to fill out an application!

  2. Once the application is returned to you, look through it.  Use the eligibility checklist found in the Appendix of the General Assistance Handbook.

  3. Set up an appointment to meet with the applicant so you can ask them for information you couldn’t get just from the application.

  4. Let them know what information you may need to help you determine eligibility.

  5. Determine if there are any income or assets.

  6. Tell them you have 30 days to make a decision (but you MUST make a decision by the 30th day).

  7. Document what is said and what action was taken.

  8. Make copies of the information for your file.

Question:  What should I ask for?

Answer:

  1. Identification

  2. Proof of residency

  3. Birth certificates for children

  4. Social Security cards

  5. Proof of any income and/or assets

  6. Any other verification you may need to determine eligibility

Question:  Then what?

Answer:

  1. Interview the applicant.  Ask them any questions you had after looking over their application.

  2. If they aren’t working, send them to the unemployment office to check on their status.  If the applicant says he can’t work, ask for verification from the doctor who is treating the applicant.  Ask if they have applied for Social Security Disability.  Has the applicant been fired or quit a job in the last 30 days?  Is the applicant on parole/probation and in compliance?

  3. Send them to the Illinois Department of Human Services to apply for:  Cash assistance (TANF if they have children under the age of 18),  food stamps and a medical card and have them return verification that they did that.

  4. If there is income, do a budget sheet found in the TSI General Assistance Handbook Appendix.

  5. Determine eligibility and the grant amount.

  6. Give them written notice of your decision.  Form is in the TSI General Assistance Handbook Appendix.

  7. Let them know the grant is for a month’s assistance.

  8. Make referrals to social agencies in your area.

Question:  What if the grant is not enough to pay all the rent or all the utilities and their other expenses?

Answer:

Your township has established a payment level and that is all they can receive for a month.

Question:  What if someone just wants help with a medical bill or prescription?

Answer:

General Assistance Medical Assistance is ONLY available to a RECIPIENT of General Assistance.  Medical Assistance requires PRIOR approval by the township supervisor.  A township is not responsible for any medical expenses incurred prior to application and/or approval of General Assistance.  Payment of medical assistance is based on the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services pricing.  Medical Assistance is in ADDITION to the monthly grant.

The General Assistance Handbook gives you directions on how to handle pricing through the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services. 

Establish a relationship with your local pharmacy so you can call them if you need a price on a prescription at Public Aid pricing for a RECIPIENT.

Question:  Do the trustees have a right to see who I helped or set the amount of assistance?

Answer:

The trustees have authority to see information that they may need to fulfill their function as an auditor of the General Assistance funds.  They are bound by confidentiality.  They cannot tell you who to help or how much to pay a recipient.  The supervisor has sole authority on General Assistance.

Question:  My township doesn’t do General Assistance.  We just help people once a year.

Answer:

  1. By statute you must administer General Assistance.  It is not an optional program.  It is one of the three main functions of a township.

  2. Emergency Assistance is an optional program your township can provide.  By statute you can only provide assistance to a recipient once in a 12 month period.  You must establish guidelines, income levels, income disregards, payment levels, and determine what assistance you will provide.  Emergency assistance cannot replace General Assistance.

Question:  Where can I get training to do all this?

Keep a list of questions you may have as you go along.  Call your Zone Director or call a General Assistance Training Institute (GATI) trainer or call a supervisor in your area who you know has experience.

These questions and answers are not intended to be considered as legal advice. If you desire a legal opinion, we encourage you to contact your township attorney.

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Rights of Applicants and Recipients

What are the rights of every applicant and recipient?

  1. Every person has the right to apply for General Assistance.

  2. Every person has the right to request assistance in completing the application.

  3. No applicant or recipient shall be discriminated against.

  4. Every applicant and recipient is entitled to confidentiality of their case.

  5. Every applicant is entitled to a written notification of benefits available.

  6. Every applicant is entitled to a written notification of his/her rights and responsibilities under the GA program.

  7. Every applicant or recipient is entitled to be treated in a courteous, considerate and respectful manner.

  8. Every applicant or recipient is entitled to freedom of choice as to living arrangements with exceptions.

  9. Every applicant or recipient is entitled to freedom of choice as to vendors with regard to basic maintenance needs with exceptions.

  10. Every applicant or recipient has a right to inspect the contents of his/her case file.

  11. Every applicant or recipient is entitled to be referred for other services or programs for which the applicant or recipient may be eligible.

  12. Every applicant has a right to a written Notice of Decision.

  13. Every recipient has a right to a written Notice of Change.

  14. Every applicant or recipient has a right to a Budget Computation Worksheet.

  15. Every applicant or recipient has a right to appeal any action, inaction or decision of the GA office.

  16. Recipients or former recipients have a right to voluntarily repay all or any portion of General Assistance provided.

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Responsibilities of Applicants and Recipients

What are the responsibilities of applicants and recipients?

  1. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to provide information necessary to determine initial and continuing eligibility for GA.

  2. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to assist the GA office in securing information necessary to determine eligibility.

  3. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to keep all scheduled appointments.

  4. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to consent to the release of information to the GA office necessary to determine eligibility.

  5. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to report within 5 days any changes in circumstances that may affect eligibility. (a)       Change of address (b) Household composition (c) Income and assets

  6. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to apply for all benefits for which the applicant or recipient may be eligible and avail themselves of all potential benefits at the earliest possible opportunity.

  7. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to utilize all available resources at their disposal.

  8. Every applicant and recipient has a responsibility to accept and follow up in good faith all referrals made by the GA office.

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The materials on this page are not intended to be considered as legal advice. If you desire a legal opinion, we encourage you to contact your township attorney.