Non-Home Rule Municipalities May Create Administrative Procedures to Determine Eligibility for Benefits Under §10 of PSEBA

June 27, 2017

In December 2008, Steven Englum was employed as a police officer by the City of Charleston (City) – a non-home-rule municipality – when he was injured while exiting his police cruiser. In November 2013, Englum sent the City a letter requesting health insurance benefits under §10 of the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (PSEBA). In December 2013, the City enacted an ordinance establishing local administrative procedures to determine applicants’ eligibility for §10 benefits. The City sent Englum notice of a hearing pursuant to those procedures, at which Englum’s eligibility would be determined. Rather than participate in the City’s administrative proceedings, Englum filed suit in state court asking the court to determine Englum’s eligibility for §10 benefits and to prevent the City from conducting an eligibility hearing under the City’s ordinance.

The trial court determined that the proper procedure for determining §10 benefits eligibility was for the court to decide Englum’s complaint for declaratory relief. As a result, the trial court held a hearing on Englum’s complaint for declaratory relief and determined that he was entitled to §10 benefits.

The Appellate Court reversed. In Illinois, non-home-rule units possess only those powers that are specifically conveyed by the Constitution or by statute. The Appellate Court found that Sections 10-4-1 and 1-2-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code provided the City with the necessary authority to enact an ordinance creating an administrative procedure to determine its employees’ eligibility for health insurance benefits under PSEBA. Thus, Englum’s eligibility for §10 benefits should have been determined by the City’s procedures rather than the court. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision denying the City’s motion to dismiss Englum’s complaint for declaratory relief without addressing Englum’s underlying claim for §10 benefits.

Englum v. City of Charleston

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