APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Fayette County; the Hon.
FRANKLIN R. DOVE, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
In a quo warrantor proceeding instituted by the State's Attorney of Fayette County, on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois, against defendants, members of the Board of Directors of The Fayette County Hospital District, the circuit court of Fayette County, in dismissing plaintiff's complaint, sustained the constitutionality of the Hospital District Law, and held that defendants were the legally appointed members of the board of a hospital district organized in accordance with the terms of the statute.
Inasmuch as the constitutionality of a statute is contested herein, plaintiff has prosecuted this appeal directly to this court.
From the record it appears that on April 6, 1950, the county judge of Fayette County entered an order declaring, in effect, that the Fayette County Hospital District was organized in accordance with "AN ACT providing for the creation and operation of Hospital Districts," approved on July 15, 1949. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1949, chap. 23, pars. 163.30-163.53, incl.) On April 26, 1950, the county judge appointed the nine defendants herein as the initial board of directors, and, after filing their acceptances, they have proceeded to act as members of the Board of Directors of the Fayette County Hospital District.
In September, 1950, quo warrantor proceedings were commenced by the State's Attorney of Fayette County, demanding by what authority or warrant there is in existence the purported hospital district, and by what authority defendants were exercising powers as members of the board of directors thereof.
In their answer, defendants set forth the entire procedure followed in the establishment of the district in accordance with the terms of the Hospital District Law, and in reply thereto plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the act, and alleged that any procedure taken in conformity therewith was consequently void and without legal authority.
In the proceeding before the trial court, the parties entered into a stipulation that the only issue raised by the pleadings was the constitutionality of the Hospital District Law. On January 17, 1951, the circuit court of Fayette County entered a judgment dismissing the complaint and the cause and finding that the Hospital District Law was not unconstitutional, and that defendants are the legally appointed members of the board of Directors of the validly organized hospital district.
On this appeal, plaintiff has presented numerous grounds which allegedly render the statute unconstitutional. However, before adjudging the legal sufficiency of each of plaintiff's assertions, reference must be made to the salient provisions of the statute.
The act authorizing the creation of hospital districts in the interest of public health does not apply to counties having a population over 500,000. The act requires districts to be contiguous and to include a population of at least 10,000; it prohibits a district from dividing a municipality, or one hospital district from being incorporated within an existing hospital district.
The organization of a hospital district may be initiated by the filing of a petition with the clerk of the county in which the territory is situated, addressed to the county judge, and signed by 500 or 10 per cent of the voters residing within the territory. The petition shall set forth a description of the territory to be embraced in the proposed district, the names of the municipalities located within the area, the name of the proposed district, the population, and a request that the question of establishing a hospital district be submitted to the electors residing within the limits of the proposed district. The petition must further designate one or more persons to represent the petitioners in the proceedings in the county court, with authority to amend or withdraw the petition.
The petition shall be set for hearing within not less than 30 nor more than 40 days after being filed, and notice of the hearing shall be given by the judge by publication in a designated manner. Upon the hearing, the petitioners may move to amend or dismiss the petition, and if it is not dismissed the judge shall determine the sufficiency of the petition. If the territory, petition, and proceedings are in accordance with the act, the judge shall make such a finding and order an election as prayed for in the petition, to be held not less than 30 nor more than 90 days after the entry of the order.
The statute requires that notice of the election shall state that any such district shall have the powers provided by the act, including the power to levy a tax not exceeding .075 per cent of the fair cash value, as equalized by the Department of Revenue, of all taxable property within the area, for the operation and maintenance of the hospital and other corporate purposes, and the power to issue tax-secured bonds in the manner provided in the act.
The statute thereupon sets forth the detailed election provisions, and provides that if a majority of the voters voting upon the question of the adoption of the act and establishment of the hospital district shall be in favor thereof, the inhabitants shall be deemed to have accepted the provisions of the act, and the territory deemed an organized hospital district, having the name stated in the petition, which shall be evidenced by an order entered by the judge of the county court.
The statute further provides a procedure whereby an area may become detached from the district if 50 per cent of the voters within any municipality or township included in a hospital district file, within 60 days after the entry of the order evidencing the organization of a hospital district, a petition for the detachment of the territory with the county clerk, addressed to the county judge. However, such detachment is not permissible if it will destroy the contiguity of the territory of the district. A hearing shall be held thereon, as in the case of a formation petition, and if the county judge finds that the petition complies with the act, he shall call an election to be held within the territory proposed for detachment within 30 days, with notice thereof to be given in the manner prescribed in the statute, and with the ballot form designated. If the majority of the votes cast at such election are in favor of detachment, the judge of the county court shall by order declare the territory detached and shall prescribe the altered boundaries of the district.
The act further provides that in case any hospital district organized thereunder shall be coterminous with, or shall include within its corporate limits, in whole or in part, any pre-existing public agency authorized to own and maintain a public hospital and levy taxes for such purposes, then such public agency shall cease to exercise any power after it receives written notice from the Director of Public Health to cease operation of its hospital, which notice shall be given only after the hospital district has placed its facilities in operation. The pre-existing public agency, which is superseded, shall be reimbursed upon such terms as may be agreed upon by its corporate ...