Inside the Courthouse: Clerk of the Circuit Court
Special purpose districts are most often created to provide services that counties, municipalities, and townships are unable to provide due to financial constraints. Special purpose governments may be divided into two classes: school districts and all others. School districts that provide primary and secondary education have elected governing boards and taxing authority. The majority of other special purpose governments have their own funding mechanisms and are run by managers and governing bodies appointed by the county board.
Special Purpose Districts in Illinois include:
Cemetery Maintenance Districts
Cemetery maintenance districts are created by the circuit court judge on petition of the voters, after public hearing and referendum. The governing body is a board of trustees appointed by county, municipal, or township officials depending on the area of the district. Cemetery districts may levy property taxes.
Civic Center Authorities
These authorities provide auditorium and exposition facilities that are established by special acts. A civic center board is appointed by the governing body of the county, city, village, or township it serves. All civic center authorities may fix rents and charges and issue revenue bonds. Some civic authorities may also levy ad valorem taxes.
These districts are established to conserve open spaces for recreational purposes. Such districts are created upon petition of voters to the circuit court of a county under 1,000,000 population with no forest preserve, or by petition of voters from not more than five counties, followed by local referendum. Conservation districts may collect fees, levy an annual tax, and issue bonds after voter approval.
Historical Museum Districts
Districts to provide museums and historic preservation efforts are created by petition of voters to the circuit court of the most populous county to be served, after public hearing and referendum. A board of five trustees, appointed by the county governing body, governs each district. The district may charge fees for its services, issue bonds, and, after voter approval, may levy ad valorem taxes.
These commissions were reorganized under provisions of 1985 law. The governing body consists of two representatives appointed by each participating government. The commission may, after voter approval, certify the amount of property taxes to be levied for commission purposes and may issue bonds.
These districts, to provide drainage and levee facilities for agricultural, mining, and sanitary purposes, may be established by the circuit court after petition of landowners, report of temporary commissioner appointed by the court and public hearing, or, alternatively, after petition, hearing, and referendum. Such districts are governed by three commissioners who may be appointed by the circuit court or, upon petition of landowners, elected. Drainage districts may levy benefit assessments and issue bonds.
Exposition authorities to provide expositions, convention facilities, stadiums, and exhibitions are created by petition of park district commissioners to the secretary of state. A board of commissioners appointed by the mayor governs each authority. Exposition authorities may fix rentals, fees, and charges, and issue revenue bonds.
Fire Protection Districts
Districts to provide fire protection and ambulance services are established by the circuit court on petition of voters, after a local referendum. They are governed by local boards of trustees that may be elected or appointed by county, municipal, or township officials, depending on the area in the district. Boards may issue bonds and levy property taxes.
Adapted from Inside the Courthouse- Illinois County Government 2019, published by the Illinois Association of County Board Members.