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People Ex Rel. Miller v. Doe

OPINION FILED MAY 19, 1961.

THE PEOPLE EX REL. HARLOW MILLER, COUNTY COLLECTOR, APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN DOE ET AL. — (IVA LUX, APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the County Court of LaSalle County; the Hon. JOHN S. MASSIEON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant Iva Lux appeals directly to this court from a judgment of the county court of La Salle County overruling her objections to the county treasurer's application for judgment for 1958 taxes, which the objector had paid under protest. Her objection challenges the validity of township multipliers applied by the board of review of La Salle County to assessed values of property in Bruce Township of said county for 1958, pursuant to provisions of the Revenue Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 120, par. 589(5).

Inasmuch as this suit involves the revenue directly, the appeal properly comes to this court direct from the county court.

The assessor's books for Bruce Township real estate, for both the 1954 and 1958 quadrennial assessments, used two basic classifications of "Lands" and "Lots." The "Lands" assessment book includes all real estate in the township which is not platted into lots both inside and outside of the city of Streator. Lands included in such classifications are variously used for farm, residential, business and industrial purposes. The "Lots" assessment books include all real estate in the township which is platted into lots, both inside and outside the city of Streator.

In 1957, the Illinois Department of Revenue certified a multiplier of 1.0989 to be applied to the assessed value of all property in La Salle County under its general powers of equalization, such multiplier in effect giving approximately a 10% "across the board" increase in assessed values.

In the 1958 quadrennial assessment, the Bruce Township assessor reduced the final equalized assessment figures of 1957, which had been obtained by application of the State multiplier, by approximately 20% on 4690 "lots," the remaining "lots" which were not so reduced being largely vacant "lots" of small valuation. As to "lands" the assessor reduced the final equalized assessment figures by approximately 10%. The total equalized assessed value after application of the State multiplier in 1957 was $4,944,850 for "lands" and $34,777,700 for "lots." The assessor's valuations for 1958 of the same "lands" was $4,518,570 and the same "lots" was $28,770,390. After giving effect to improvements on existing structures, new construction, and losses in value by fire or demolition, a reduction in equalization value of approximately 10% for "lands" and 20% for "lots" is apparent in the assessments.

The assessments as made by the assessor for the 1958 quadrennial, as modified by the supervisor of assessments, was duly published in the Streator Daily Times Press. Thereafter individual complaints were filed with and heard by the board of review and resulting adjustments in individual assessments made.

The board of review then proceeded to publish a notice on March 25, April 1, and April 8, 1959, that it proposed to increase the 1958 quadrennial assessment of all real estate, including improvements, in Bruce Township, and the 1958 assessment of all personal property other than passenger automobiles, trucks, busses, trailers and capital stock by 20% and that a public hearing would be held by the board on April 13, 1959, at the Ottawa court house concerning said proposal.

A hearing was held on such date at which approximately 50 people were present with legal counsel. After the hearing, a written order was signed by the board of review members and incorporated in its records that the assessment for Bruce Township for the 1958 quadrennial "* * * shall be increased by 20% on all lots, including improvements and shall be increased by 10% on all farm lands including improvements; and the present assessment * * * shall be increased 20% on all personal property provided such increase shall not apply to the present assessment * * * on all passenger automobiles, trucks, busses, trailers, capital stock, grain, hay and livestock." (Italics supplied.)

The board of review thereupon caused every tract of property in the "lands" book to be increased by 10% regardless of the use of such land for residential, commercial, industrial or farm purposes, and every tract in the "lots" books to be increased by 20%. In the "lands" book there were a total of 406 tracts, of which 182 were used for residential, business or industrial purposes, and the remaining 224 tracts were used for farm purposes. On May 12, 1959, the board of review reported to the Illinois Department of Revenue that the assessed value of "lands" in Bruce Township had been increased 10% and that the assessed value of "lots" in Bruce Township had been increased 20%.

The property of objector appellant consists of an improved residence lot in the city of Streator assessed at $3,420 which was increased by application of the disputed multiplier 20% to $4,100. There were 153 properties used for residence purposes in Bruce Township similar to the objector's which were increased only 10% by application of the multiplier. There were instances where one property used for residence purposes was increased 10% and other properties of similar use located either adjacent thereto or across the road or in the same area were increased 20%. Numerous comparable situations exist between the assessment of various properties used for similar commercial and industrial purposes, since some of each were located on property listed in the "lands" and some in the "lots" books.

The authority of the board of review to establish and apply "township multipliers" is derived from the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 120, par. 589) which, so far as pertinent, provides as follows:

"In counties containing less than 500,000 inhabitants, the board of review shall, in any year, whether the year of the quadrennial assessment or not:

"(5) Increase or reduce the entire assessment of either real or personal property, or both, or of any class included therein if, in its opinion, the assessment has not been made upon the proper basis, or equalize the assessment of real or personal property, by increasing or reducing the amount thereof, in any township, or part thereof, or any portion of the county as may, in its opinion, be just, but the assessment of any class of property or of any township or part thereof, or any portion of the county, shall not be increased until the board shall have published a notice in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county, of such proposed increase and shall have given the ...


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