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Library Directors v. Lake Forest

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 24, 1959.

BOARD OF LIBRARY DIRECTORS OF WEST DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT,

v.

THE CITY OF LAKE FOREST ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. SIDNEY H. BLOCK, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DAVIS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This case presents the question of the constitutionality of the 1955 amendments to sections 1 and 10 of the Library Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 81, pars. 1 and 10.) In general, these sections provide that where any city, village or incorporated town, which levies a library tax, is wholly or partially located within a township which likewise levies a library tax, the township shall pay to such municipality the entire amount of the township library taxes, levied and collected on the property located in the portion of the township that lies in such municipality; and that the municipality, upon receipt of such funds from the township, shall reduce and abate, from the library tax which it has levied, a rate that will produce the amount received from the township.

This action was brought by the plaintiff, Board of Library Directors of West Deerfield Township, to enjoin the township collector and township clerk from paying over to the cities of Lake Forest and Highland Park the proceeds of the township library taxes collected on property lying within those cities, and to declare sections 1 and 10 of the Library Act unconstitutional. The trial court entered a decree for defendants on the pleadings, and plaintiff has appealed directly to this court.

West Deerfield Township, pursuant to the provisions of "An Act to authorize cities, villages, incorporated towns and townships to establish and maintain free public libraries and reading rooms," as amended, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 81, pars. 1-16 incl.,) has established and maintains a library located wholly within West Deerfield Township and a township tax has been levied and collected for its maintenance.

The cities of Lake Forest and Highland Park are located partially within West Deerfield Township and both maintain tax-supported libraries pursuant to this act which are situated within the portion of each city outside of West Deerfield Township. The residents of the township who reside outside the city limits of Lake Forest and Highland Park are not permitted the free use of the library maintained by either of these cities. Lake Forest permits nonresidents to use the facilities of its library for an annual fee of $2 per person and Highland Park permits such use for an annual fee of $3 per person or $7.50 per family.

In 1957, the city of Highland Park levied a tax for the use of its public library at the rate of $11.20 per $10,000 of assessed valuation, and in 1958 such levy was at the rate of $19. The maximum rate for library purposes is $20 per $10,000 valuation. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 81, par. 10.

Plaintiff contends that the 1955 amendment requiring the township to pay such library tax to such cities contravenes sections 9 and 10 of article IX of the constitution of 1870, which requires uniformity of taxation and prohibits the General Assembly from imposing taxes upon the property of municipal corporations for corporate purposes. Defendants reply that the 1955 amendment accomplishes the beneficial purpose of avoiding a duplication of taxes in the overlapping area of these municipalities within the framework of the constitution.

To view the question presented in its proper context, we must first examine the undisputed history of the Library Act and the 1955 amendments. The legislature first authorized the levy of taxes for the establishment and maintenance of free public libraries by a city or incorporated town in 1872, but no provision was made for the issuance of bonds. (Laws of 1871-2, p. 609; Rev. Stat. 1874, chap. 81, par. 1.) In 1891, section 13 was added to the act of 1872. It authorized the councils of cities to issue bonds for library purposes. (Laws of 1891, p. 154; Hurd's Stat. 1891, chap. 81, p. 906.) By the act of 1905, the legislature authorized the directors of township libraries to issue bonds. (Laws of 1905, p. 313; Hurd's Stat. 1905, chap. 81, p. 1309.) In 1939, the original act of 1872 was amended to permit both townships and cities to issue bonds and levy taxes for library purposes upon an equal basis. (Laws of 1939, p. 694.) As a result of these enactments, the Library Act, as amended prior to 1955, authorized the issuance of bonds and the levy of taxes by townships, cities, villages and incorporated towns for library purposes.

Consequently, a property owner who was a resident of that part of Lake Forest or Highland Park lying within the township of West Deerfield would be compelled to pay a tax for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the library of both the city and the township. Certain of such residents claimed this burden of double taxation was unconstitutional, and sought to enjoin the levy of the tax and also sought legislative relief. In Dugan v. Berning, 11 Ill.2d 353, we upheld the statute and at page 359 stated: "The alleged inequities of which the plaintiff complains are beyond the reach of the courts."

The legislature, however, was cognizant of the problems in the area of overlapping municipalities and enacted the presently disputed 1955 amendments to the end that a taxpayer in such area would be required to pay but one tax for the establishment and maintenance of a library, which tax should ultimately be used by the library of the city of which he is a resident.

In examining the amendment embodying this legislative solution, we must indulge in a strong presumption of its constitutionality. (Department of Public Works and Buildings v. Butler Co. 13 Ill.2d 537; People ex rel. Royal v. Cain, 410 Ill. 39; People v. Deatherage, 401 Ill. 25.) In Dugan, we held that it was not within the province of judicial competence to solve the taxing problems of overlapping municipalities; so also in the case at bar, we have no right to reject the legislative solution of such problems in the absence of clear constitutional prohibitions.

In the present case, plaintiff contends that such prohibitions are contained in sections 9 and 10 of article IX of the constitution of 1870, which provide as follows:

"9. The general assembly may vest the corporate authorities of cities, towns and villages with power to make local improvements by special assessment, or by special taxation of contiguous property, or otherwise. For all other corporate purposes, all municipal corporations may be vested with authority to assess and collect taxes; but such taxes shall be uniform in respect to persons and property, within the jurisdiction of the body imposing the same.

"10. The general assembly shall not impose taxes upon municipal corporations, or the inhabitants or property thereof, for corporate purposes, but shall require that all the taxable property within the limits of municipal corporations shall be taxed for the payment of debts contracted under authority of law, such taxes to be uniform in respect to persons and property, within the jurisdiction of the body imposing the same. Private ...


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