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Vil. of Hoffman Estates v. Union Oil Co.

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 19, 1977.

THE VILLAGE OF HOFFMAN ESTATES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

UNION OIL COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN LIMPERIS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is a prosecution by the Village of Hoffman Estates (hereinafter referred to as Village) of an alleged violation of Village ordinances which require the display of a Village vehicle sticker on the windshield of a vehicle registered to an address in the Village. The defendant, Union Oil Company, a California corporation, owned the vehicle in question and registered it to the address of its offices in the Village. The vehicle, however, had no valid vehicle sticker of any type displayed. After a hearing, the trial court found the Village ordinance to be valid and applicable and fined defendant $20 plus $5 court costs.

Defendant now appeals and contends as follows: (1) that the history of the Illinois Vehicle Code shows a clear-cut purpose to provide a comprehensive regulatory scheme concerning the licensing of motor vehicles by municipalities and that the imposition of a vehicle tax based upon the vehicle's registration with the Secretary of State has been excluded by this broad regulatory scheme; (2) that the instant vehicle tax is not authorized by plaintiff's home-rule powers; and (3) that the hearing date, 94 days after the citation was issued, was untimely under Supreme Court Rule 504, which requires a hearing within 10 to 45 days of arrest whenever practicable.

We affirm.

The relevant facts surrounding the instant appeal are undisputed. A police officer of the Village of Hoffman Estates, a home-rule unit, issued a citation to an employee of the Union Oil Company for failing to have displayed a valid vehicle sticker on an automobile owned by the defendant and assigned to the employee. The citation was issued by the "hang-on" method while the automobile was parked at the company's office located at 2060 Stoneington in Hoffman Estates.

The defendant explained that although the vehicle in question displayed no vehicle sticker, it was assigned to a salesman who lives in the Village of Lily Lake, Illinois, and who works out of the defendant's office in Hoffman Estates; that it was the defendant's practice to purchase vehicle stickers from the city or village in which the salesman assigned to the vehicle resides; and that the Village of Lily Lake, the instant salesman's residence, has no ordinance which requires the display of a vehicle sticker.

It was also established at trial that the Union Oil Company is a California corporation with its principal place of business in California, that it has offices in Hoffman Estates and that the vehicle in question is registered with the Secretary of State at the defendant's offices in the Village of Hoffman Estates. The relevant ordinances of the Village of Hoffman Estates provides that since the instant vehicle is registered to an address in Hoffman Estates it shall have a valid vehicle sticker issued by the Village attached to the windshield. Village of Hoffman Estates, Ill., Municipal Code, ch. 5, art. 71, § 1, et seq.; Village of Hoffman Estates, Ill., Ordinance 695-1975 (1975).

Defendant first contends that the history of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 95 1/2, par. 1-100 et seq.) indicates a clear intent to provide a comprehensive regulatory scheme concerning the licensing of motor vehicles by municipalities. Citing specifically section 2-121 of the Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 95 1/2, par. 2-121), defendant argues that this comprehensive regulatory scheme provides for the imposition of a vehicle tax only by the place of residence of the owner or by the place of the situs of the vehicle and excludes the imposition of a "wheel tax" (a common characterization for municipal vehicle license fees) based upon a vehicle's place of registration with the Secretary of State. The Village argues that regardless of the interpretation given section 2-121 of the Vehicle Code, the instant vehicle tax was within its home-rule powers and that the trial court's decision should thus be affirmed.

• 1 The Illinois Constitution delineates as follows the powers of a home-rule unit: "Except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, § 6(a).) The constitution provides for the following limitation of the above broad home-rule powers:

"(e) A home rule unit shall have only the power that the General Assembly may provide by law (1) to punish by imprisonment for more than six months or (2) to license for revenue or impose taxes upon or measured by income or earnings or upon occupations." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, § 6(e).)

The constitutional commentary provides that "Subsection 6(e)(2) prohibits a home rule unit from licensing for revenue * * * unless authorized to do so by statute." (Ill. Ann. Stat., Ill. Const., art. VII, § 6, Constitutional Commentary, at 25 (Smith-Hurd 1971).) The defendant argues that the Village wheel tax ordinance is a revenue ordinance and that under section 6(e) of article VII the Village's home-rule unit power to impose the wheel tax extends only as far as the General Assembly may provide by law. We disagree. This same contention was rejected by the supreme court in Rozner v. Korshak (1973), 55 Ill.2d 430, 303 N.E.2d 389. In Rozner the court concluded that the power to regulate and the power to tax are distinct powers although each may be exercised by the imposition of a license fee. The court stated that a "`Wheel Tax License' ordinance is frankly a taxing measure." (55 Ill.2d 430, 433, 303 N.E.2d 389, 390.) The supreme court reiterated this holding in Gilligan v. Korzen (1974), 56 Ill.2d 387, 308 N.E.2d 613. Since the Village Wheel Tax Ordinance is a taxing ordinance and not a revenue ordinance the limitations of subsection 6(e) do not apply.

• 2 The defendant also argues that the Village's home-rule power to impose a wheel tax is limited by section 2-121 of the Vehicle Code. That section provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

"No owner of a vehicle * * * shall be required by any * * * village * * * within the State other than a * * * village * * * in which the owner resides or in which a vehicle has its situs or base, to pay any tax or license fee for the use of such vehicle.

However, a resident owner shall not be required to display on his vehicle, the plate or tax or license number issued by the city, village or incorporated town of his residence if his vehicle is displaying the plate or tax or license number issued by the place wherein the vehicle ...


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