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People v. Metropolitan Sanitary Dist.





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WILLIAM J. TUOHY, Judge, presiding.


Separate suits were filed in the circuit court of Cook County, one an information by the State's Attorney in the nature of quo warrantor and the other by the two individual plaintiffs as taxpayers. The Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago and the trustees thereof were the defendants in both cases. The validity of amendatory legislation passed in 1955 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1955, chap. 42, pars. 329a to 329i) was attacked on identical constitutional grounds in both cases, and they were consolidated below. This appeal is from a final judgment and decree dismissing the consolidated cause, and is properly directed to this court since the constitutionality of a statute is involved.

The amendatory act complained of empowers sanitary districts to construct a sewerage or drainage system, or extend and improve an existing system, to serve a particular area within its corporate limits and to pay the cost thereof by the issuance and sale of revenue bonds payable solely from the revenue derived from the operation of the system within the area so served.

Pursuant to authority of the act, the defendant District took all necessary legal steps for the issuance of revenue bonds to the amount of $1,635,000 to defray the cost of acquiring and constructing a sanitary sewerage system in a locality within its borders which embraces the village of Mount Prospect and some additional territory contiguous thereto. For convenience the territory so embraced will hereinafter be referred to as "Mt. Prospect area."

There are certain existing sewers in the Mt. Prospect area. Some were constructed by the village of Mount Prospect and others by drainage districts and subdistricts. Legal steps leading up to the detachment from the districts and subdistricts have been taken and formal orders are ready to be entered in the appropriate court whereby the existing sewers will be taken over by the village of Mount Prospect. Thereafter it is proposed that all of the sewers located in the Mt. Prospect area be turned over by the village to the defendant District. Such sewers are then to be incorporated into the comprehensive sewerage system of the District in the Mt. Prospect area.

Plaintiffs charge that the amendatory act violates the Illinois constitution because it embraces several different subjects not expressed in the title, that it is in violation of the due process clauses of the State and Federal constitutions, and that it is a special law.

The first contention of plaintiffs is that the amendatory act violates section 13 of article IV of the Illinois constitution in that it embraces subjects not expressed in the title. A similar objection was made in the case of People ex rel. Longenecker v. Nelson, 133 Ill. 565. The powers given the original sanitary district by the act entitled, "An Act to create sanitary districts and to remove obstructions in the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers," approved May 29, 1889, were there held to be sufficiently broad because the act had but one general object which is fairly indicated by its title.

It is the general subject, not the individual provisions of the subject matter to carry out and accomplish the general object, that must be expressed in the title. (People ex rel. Wies v. Bowman, 247 Ill. 276; People v. Chicago Transit Authority, 392 Ill. 77; People v. City of Chicago, 349 Ill. 304; People ex rel. Brenza v. Gebbie, 5 Ill.2d 565; Sangamon Fair and Agricultural Assn. v. Stanard, 9 Ill.2d 267.) The provisions added by the amendatory act, including the method of financing, include details by which the general objective is to be attained, and, in our opinion, are not violative of the constitution.

The cases cited by plaintiffs are typified by People ex rel. Stuckart v. Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Co. 290 Ill. 327. There the title was limited to the issuing of bonds and levying of taxes to pay same. A provision for a tax to maintain parks and boulevards was obviously outside the title. All of such cases had limited titles and the objectionable provisions of each were not within the scope of the title so limited.

It is next asserted that the amendatory act violates section 2 of article II of the Illinois constitution and the fourteenth amendment to the Federal constitution. It is also contended that such act is violative of section 22 of article IV and section 9 of article IX of the Illinois constitution in that it is, respectively, a special law and a special benefit to a particular locality. These contentions will be discussed together, since they were considered by this court in the case of Spalding v. City of Granite City, 415 Ill. 274.

The Spalding case involved the constitutionality of sections 60-12 through 60-18 of the Revised Cities and Villages Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1951, chap. 24, pars. 60-12 to 60-18.) By such sections, cities and villages were given practically identical powers with those given sanitary districts by the amendatory act in question. In fact, a comparison of the two indicates no substantial difference between them. Therefore, if we adhere to that case, we need only consider briefly like constitutional objections made here.

The due-process violation charged is two-fold: first, that even though the act provided for notice by publication of a hearing, the corporate authorities were under no obligation to follow the wishes of persons appearing at the hearing and, second, that while the original probable rates for service were fixed, no provision was made to curtail the changing of rates thereafter. In disposing of similar contentions in the Spalding case we pointed out that no one was forced to use the facility and only those electing to connect to the system were required to pay as a user thereof. If a property owner chooses to be a user, he contracts to pay the reasonable charge fixed therefor, and there is no deprivation of property without due process of law.

Under a separate heading, but which we believe proper to discuss at this point, the plaintiffs complain that the charges against a user may become a lien upon the property of the user. The Spalding case did not pass directly on this question, upon the theory that no actual ...

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