Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.
Special Districts
Special Districts

Special Districts

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has provided legal representation to numerous additional special districts, including fire protection districts, park districts, townships and sanitary sewer districts. We serve both as general counsel to numerous municipalities and special districts in Illinois, and also serve and support many additional municipalities and special districts with a wide variety of specialized services or projects. We are a full service local government firm and do not "farm out" litigation, nor do we seek outside counsel to handle specialized areas. Our attorneys are capable and experienced in all facets of the special district practice area. We offer a wide-range of expertise in all matters, which may arise involving special districts. The following are a sampling of these areas of expertise.

Finance

We regularly assist our clients in addressing the legal complexities and requirements associated with budget, bonds, tax levy, debt financing, and other specialized financial issues, including tax increment financing, special assessments, special service areas, downtown redevelopment projects, and developer incentive agreements.

Property Issues

Our attorneys are experienced in all types of property issues and transactions that affect local governments. We have experience in condemnation work and have been involved in the development and preparation of "Naperville-type" ordinances requiring developer donations. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has also been involved in the purchase and sale of public properties, to and from private corporations, the granting and obtaining of easements for various purposes, and in the preparation of purchase and sale of personal property. The purchases of personal property regularly involve reviewing specifications and contracts related to the product or equipment. We are experienced in all phases of financing the acquisition of property, the acquisition of raw land and the construction of new buildings, including the acquisition through debt financing, or other revenue sources.

Construction Law

Our attorneys have experience in public sector construction law and litigation, including the contract process, acquisition and development, mechanics’ liens, letters of credit, surety bonds, leasing, lending, foreclosures and financing. Our attorneys are familiar with the construction contract process and implementation and in dealing with contractor/surety problems associated with unsatisfactory construction and construction failure. Our attorneys have been involved in and counseled our clients on varying bid or subcontracting matters related to construction projects. We have also assisted in the negotiation and review of architects' contracts and those of the general contractor or construction manager relative to public construction projects. We have successfully handled construction litigation relative to these types of projects and have assisted our clients in ensuring timely completion of projects within the agreed upon budget.

Zoning and Development

We have counseled our clients in all matters related to annexation, zoning, subdivision, construction, general municipal growth, infrastructure installation and maintenance.

Employment/Labor

Our attorneys have assisted our clients with matters ranging from their basic compliance with legal requirements related to personnel policies and handbooks, and the hiring, retention, discipline and removal of employees, to issues or claims related to compliance with state and federal laws, including employment discrimination, personnel records, prevailing wage requirements, overtime, family and medical leave requirements, HIPAA and the Americans with Disabilities Act. For further information in this practice area, see the general “Employment/Labor” section of our website.

Collective Bargaining

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. attorneys are experienced negotiators. Our lawyers have extensive negotiating experience in negotiating various contracts for our local government clients and private sector clients as well. Our firm has also developed an expertise in labor board cases and related litigation matters. Our lawyers have negotiated numerous union contracts, including collective bargaining agreements with the Federation of Police, the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association. For further information in this practice area, see the general “Employment/Labor” section of our website. Board Practices and Procedures Our lawyers have extensive experience with the regular practices and procedures, which apply to the basic operations of local government in Illinois, including the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

Election Law

Our attorneys have provided assistance and consultation to our public sector clients relative to their obligations in complying with the Illinois Election Code and related statutory requirements. For further information in this practice area, see the general “Election Law” section of our website.

Special Purpose Tribunals

Our practice includes regular work with and before numerous special district boards, commissions and committees.

Partners with Expertise in Special District Law

For questions regarding Special Districts, please contact Thomas P. Bayer, Dennis G. WalshMichael T. JurusikE. Kenneth FrikerJames V. Ferolo, Gregory T. Smith, Jacob Karaca, Carmen P. Forte Jr. , James A. Rhodes or Gerard E. Dempsey.

 

Meet with a highly skilled Special Districts attorney in Illinois

The legal team of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. represents special districts throughout the Chicagoland area. Please contact our firm’s office in downtown Chicago at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule an initial consultation.

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Freedom of Information Open Meeting Act

Chicago, Illinois Law Firm Assists with Freedom of Information Act Matters

Our firm protects municipalities and educational institutions

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we have extensive experience assisting governing bodies and educational institutions with matters related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA). There are certain matters that are sensitive and should be duly protected. The solicitation of information under these acts should be properly supervised, and any discrepancies that arise must be accurately handled. We provide the advice and guidance you need to ensure that you are in compliance with the law.

A straightforward translation of the Freedom of Information Act

In addition to the federal FOIA, Illinois has enacted the Illinois FOIA. The goal of both FOIA statutes is to allow citizens to obtain information about their government. Anyone has the right to make a FOIA request. In Illinois, a public body has five business days after receiving the FOIA request to respond to it, but that timeframe can be extended under certain circumstances. Additionally, certain information is exempt from FOIA requests, including:

  • Matters that must be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy
  • Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency
  • Private information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses, personal financial information and other unique identifiers
  • Law enforcement records that would disclose a confidential source or otherwise impair an ongoing investigation
  • Information that if disclosed could endanger or impair an individual’s life
  • Business trade secrets
  • Requests that are “unduly burdensome”

There are other exclusions that may apply as well. We can help you interpret the exclusions and how they apply to your municipality or educational institution and the request being made.

Our firm translates and applies the Open Meetings Act

The Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) was created to prohibit secret discussions and action on matters significantly affecting the public that should be discussed in a public forum. Providing advance notice to citizens of actions to be taken is part of the policy of the OMA. All meetings are subject to the OMA, unless specifically exempted. The OMA specifically applies to municipalities and school districts. There are numerous exemptions, which are strictly construed, that our attorneys can help you understand and determine if they apply to your meeting. We provide important advice regarding your municipality or educational institution’s compliance with the act.

Obtain the guidance you need in FOIA and OMA matters

When a municipality or educational institution has a question regarding FOIA or OMA issues, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has the answers. Contact us at our Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or at the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400. We can also be reached via our website.

Board Practices & Procedures

Providing Guidance in Board Practices and Procedures in Chicago, Illinois

Our attorneys help clients comply with the law

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has provided legal services to municipalities and educational institutions since 1935. We have extensive experience assisting a wide variety of boards with their practices and procedures. We can ensure your compliance with the law and establish effective and efficient tools to make your board more productive.

Creating proper board practices and procedures

While each type of board is unique, its effectiveness is usually directly related to the use of certain prescribed board practices and procedures. In an effort to promote efficiency and compliance with the law, we provide the following services:

  • Board manuals
  • Selection criteria for board members
  • Evolving board practices and procedures
  • Agendas for board meetings
  • Written policies regarding attendance
  • Board self-evaluations

Adhering to the Open Meetings Act

Municipal law and the Open Meetings Act require the majority of government meetings to be open to the public. There are exceptions to this general rule, but these exemptions are strictly construed. Meetings that are allowed to be closed to the public include:

  • The employment, compensation, discipline or dismissal of specific employees of the municipal body or educational institution
  • The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body
  • Student disciplinary cases
  • Other matters related to individual students, such as placement in special education programs

There are numerous other exemptions that may apply to your meetings. It is important to confer with attorneys to determine how the OMA applies to you and your meetings.

Defining the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides citizens the right to know the actions of the governing bodies within their district. A FOIA request allows a person or entity to obtain certain documents and other pieces of information regarding the actions of the government. Complying with FOIA requests can be overwhelming. A municipality or school has the duty to provide permissible information, but also must claim exemptions for protected information. We can assist with all matters related to FOIA and ensure that you are complying with your legal obligations in responding to FOIA requests.

Schedule an initial consultation to discuss board practices and procedures

Our attorneys continue to execute our firm’s tradition of experience, expertise and efficiency. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has an office location in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

Labor & Employment Law

Chicago, IL Employment Law Attorneys Serving the Public Sector

Providing quality employment legal advice and litigation services

Employment law violations and lawsuits can lead to costly liability for cities, town and local agencies. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. handles every aspect of employment law for our public sector clients throughout the Chicago area. From providing comprehensive legal advice regarding compliance with state and federal employment laws to defending individual and class action lawsuits, we deliver outstanding results.

Delivering knowledgeable employment law advice

The area of employment law is continually changing. Our lawyers actively monitor judicial decisions and changes in federal, state and municipal laws so that our clients’ employment practices and policies can be modified as needed. We counsel our clients regarding how to minimize risk when dealing with sensitive employment issues such as:

  • Contract negotiation
  • Employee discipline
  • Reduction in force
  • Anti-harassment policies and training

As part of our work, we also review and update personnel policy manuals for our clients to ensure compliance with federal and state laws. By establishing and enforcing sound policies and procedures, many employers can avoid lawsuits down the road.

Providing seasoned employment law litigation services

The number of employment-related lawsuits filed by both employers and employees has grown dramatically in recent years. In addition to private suits, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission set a record for monetary recovery from employers through its administrative process in 2012. The most frequently filed charges were retaliation (37,836), race discrimination (33,512) and gender discrimination (30,356).

Our Chicago employment attorneys are dedicated to protecting our clients from these costly and disruptive suits. We routinely defend both private and public sector clients against individual and class actions. These may be brought in federal and state courts and involve many different aspects of employment law. Matters we handle include:

  • Race, gender, religion or national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • Age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Accommodation of disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Faculty and tenure disputes, disciplinary actions and other issues involving education law 
  • Unpaid wages or overtime under the Fair Labor Standard Act
  • Employee leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Violations of employment contracts, such as covenants not to compete and nondisclosure agreements
  • Termination disputes involving wrongful discharge or dismissal of employees covered by policy manuals

We also handle labor issues, including collective bargaining negotiations, grievance arbitrations and mediation, and unfair labor practice matters arising under the National Labor Relations Act and state labor relations statutes.

Contact a proven Chicago law firm for your employment law needs

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has served the Chicago area since 1935. Our experienced team of attorneys provides legal representation in all areas of employment law. Contact our firm’s office in downtown Chicago at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 312.984.6400 or online to arrange an initial consultation.

Litigation

Chicago, IL Litigation Lawyers Fighting for Your Best Interests

Providing strong advocacy in the courtroom

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has experience in all areas of federal and state litigation involving municipalities, school districts, other units of local government, corporations and individuals from the simplest cases to the most complex. Our litigators also have experience in administrative proceedings and alternative dispute forums, including mediation and arbitration. We have applied this experience and unique skill to the benefit of private sector clients, insurance companies, self-insured groups and pools.

Offering comprehensive litigation services

We have been successful advocates for corporate and individual clients in a broad range of areas such as:

  • Personal injury, wrongful death and torts
  • Labor and employment law matters
  • Student discipline and residency hearings
  • Special education issues
  • Constitutional and civil rights
  • Administrative review actions
  • Zoning, real estate, development and land use
  • Condemnation and eminent domain disputes
  • Construction law disputes
  • Demolition of unsafe structures and lien foreclosures
  • Business disputes
  • Injunctions and other equitable remedies
  • Environmental issues
  • Insurance disputes
  • Contract disputes and fraud
  • Finance
  • Engineering and architectural matters
  • Tax exemption issues
  • Probate, trusts and estate matters
  • Election, voting and campaign disputes

We handle cases at the post-trial and appellate stages in all levels of the state and federal court systems. We not only handle post-trial proceedings in cases already assigned to us, but we also help to formulate and pursue post-trial strategies in cases tried by other firms. Indeed, our appellate attorneys have served as judicial clerks to Illinois Supreme Court and appellate court justices and have argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court and all five districts of the Illinois Appellate Court.

Proficient in handling administrative litigation

Our attorneys also serve as local prosecutors in the circuit court and administrative adjudication systems for several municipalities. We also represent intergovernmental risk management programs as special litigation counsel for the:

  • Illinois Risk Management Agency (IRMA)
  • Suburban Library System
  • Park District Risk Management Agency
  • Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Pool

We have obtained several landmark rulings to the benefit of our clients, and we have also obtained countless final judgment rulings in our clients’ favor via dispositive motion practice and trial. In all of our litigation matters, including education law issues, we strive to achieve results in the most cost-efficient manner possible while maintaining a standard of excellence.

Contact skilled Illinois litigators for an initial consultation

For your convenience, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has two locations. We have an office in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera, which is accessible by mass transit, and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

Property Issues

Helping Chicago-Area Municipalities Make Sensible Real Property Policy

Orland Park attorneys active in school financing since 1935

Responsible development is a key to any city’s growth, as the tax base must expand to keep pace with the population base. As downtown areas begin to attract new residents and suburban areas continue to grow, an adequate infrastructure is more important than ever. Schools and related facilities cannot be built without precious real estate. How can your city secure the rights to the real property it needs to serve its citizens?

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., our attorneys are experienced in all types of property issues affecting schools. We can provide both innovative and traditional solutions to ensure that your community is able to achieve and maintain sustainable growth.

Our attorneys provide assistance via a Naperville ordinance

A Naperville ordinance may be the ideal vehicle for your municipality to secure the land it needs at a reasonable cost. Some areas grow so fast that by the time parks, school and other public places are needed the land has been subdivided and is too expensive to acquire. Other cities experience uneven growth; one area of the city expands while other areas contract.

A Naperville ordinance can cure both these maladies. In 1972, Naperville, Illinois passed a city ordinance that all builders must donate either land or cash to the city to be used for schools and parks, either 5.5 acres or $15,000 per acre. The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. possess specific knowledge in this area and can help you draft an ordinance with an excellent chance of withstanding any legal challenge.

Guidance in purchase and lease issues

In some cases, it can be more cost-effective to acquire and renovate existing structures or existing vacant lots and convert these spaces to parks or schools or any other needed facility. Such activity must conform to special laws in Illinois, including the Public Construction Contract Act. All activities on the site, from accepting bids to negotiating the contract terms to construction and renovation to the final cleanup, must be in strict compliance with these laws.

Adept in handling financing issues

The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. can assist with many forms of municipal bond campaigns to raise capital for needed improvements:

  • Types of bonds. Most municipal construction bonds are general obligation bonds, meaning that repayment is guaranteed by the issuing taxing authority. Revenue bonds are linked to a revenue stream, such as user fees or tolls.
  • Bond issuance. The majority of bonds are issued after a referendum giving the taxpayers the chance to vote on whether to approve the measure. Non-referendum bonds are directly tied to existing tax revenue.

Other construction and finance issues may be involved in a bond campaign as well.

Call attorneys providing experience, expertise and efficiency to clients in Chicago and all of Illinois

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we use our experience to craft cost-effective solutions to your financing and election needs. Contact Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule your confidential consultation at either our downtown or suburban office.

Property Tax Litigation

Chicago, Illinois Property Tax Litigation Attorneys Protect Your Revenue

Tried-and-true revenue solutions exist in Orland Park

Because they are evenly distributed and offer a consistent year-by-year revenue stream, property taxes are the preferred taxing method for many taxing authorities and the largest single public revenue source in Illinois. Property taxes are also fairly easy to collect, making such a method even more attractive. Generally speaking, property tax litigation can arise either at the assessment phase or the collection phase.

The experienced attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. offer professional litigation services at any point in the process. Our lawyers work to prevent problems before they start by drafting carefully crafted rules and procedures. If litigation does arise, we provide cost-effective defense solutions.

Property tax services that can save you money

State law and specifically Chapter 35 of the Property Tax Code, controls most aspects of municipal law as it pertains to property tax litigation. As for the assessment, Article 9 Section 4 allows the taxing authority to create a practical uniformity as opposed to a mathematical uniformity. In other words, you have some flexibility in being able to assess high-value properties at a higher rate. For example, Cook County is the only county in Illinois that uses a property classification system to assist in the assessment process such that vacant land is taxed at a different rate from commercial property, and so on.

Our firm assists clients with property tax challenges

The Central Appraisal District surveys all property within its jurisdiction and sets property values consistent with established procedures. Dissatisfied property owners may appeal decisions to the Board of Review, and then either to the Property Tax Appeal Board and Administrative Review Board or to the circuit court and appellate court. Most commonly, challenges are based on uneven assessment when the property’s assessment is not in line with similar properties in similar neighborhoods.

Unpaid property taxes create a lien on the property. There are several ways that a taxing authority may choose to execute its lien:

  • Tax lien certificate. The county essentially sells the lien to a private investor who then has the right to collect on the lien.
  • Foreclosure sale. Following some due process requirements, the sheriff sells the property at a foreclosure auction and pays the taxes out of the sales price.

We can help you with either of these situations.

Call attorneys who understand the needs of Chicago-area municipalities

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., our attorneys have represented governments since the 1930s in a variety of forums. We understand your needs, and we know the best way to help you find answers to your problems. Contact Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule your confidential consultation at either our downtown or suburban office.