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Bd. of Trustees v. Bakalis

OPINION FILED JANUARY 11, 1980.

THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT NO. 508, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

MICHAEL J. BAKALIS, COMPTROLLER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. CURRY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff brought this action for a writ of mandamus against defendants to compel payment of $2,502,538.77 allegedly due plaintiff as credit hour grants under section 2-16 of the Public Community College Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 102-16). The trial court granted summary judgment for the plaintiff, and defendants appeal from that judgment. On appeal, defendants maintain that these funds cannot be distributed to the plaintiff as credit hour grants because the express approval of both the Comptroller and the Department for this expenditure has not been obtained as required by statute. Defendants' position does not challenge plaintiff's ultimate right to receive credit hour grants, but rather the procedure by which disbursement of these funds is to be made. Consequently, the issues before us center on the statutory duties of the defendants with regard to the expenditures of public funds for credit hour grants.

According to the allegations of the plaintiff's complaint, plaintiff was entitled to receive $2,502,538.77 as credit hour grants for fiscal years 1976 and 1977 under section 2-16 of the Public Community College Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 102-16). Section 2-16 states in pertinent part:

"Any community college district which maintains a community college recognized by the State Board (Illinois Community College Board) is entitled to claim a credit hour grant for all instructional categories, the average of which is not less than $17.61 for each semester hour or equivalent in a course carried through each mid-term by each student in attendance who is a resident of Illinois and such other special grants as may be authorized by the General Assembly.

Upon approval of any claim under this Section, the State Board shall prepare and certify to the State Comptroller the report of claims for community college grants and vouchers setting forth the money due each such district within 45 days from the receipt of such claims. The Comptroller shall cause his warrants to be drawn for the respective amounts due, payable to each community college district, within 15 days following the receipt of such vouchers. * * *" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 102-16.)

Plaintiff timely filed claims for credit hour grants for fiscal years 1976 and 1977 with the Illinois Community College Board (State Board), which approved plaintiff's claims in the amount of $2,502,538.77. Contrary to section 2-16, the State Board sent the approved vouchers for these credit hour grants to the Department of Administrative Services (Department), instead of to the State Comptroller (Comptroller). Although funds have been appropriated by the General Assembly to pay for these credit hour grants, the Department has refused to permit disbursement of these funds. Plaintiff filed this action for a writ of mandamus on September 26, 1977. In its prayer for relief, plaintiff requested a preliminary mandatory injunction ordering defendants to deposit $2,502,538.77 with the clerk of the court, and for a writ of mandamus ordering defendants to pay the sum to plaintiff.

Following a hearing, the trial court issued a preliminary injunction directing the Comptroller and the Department to deposit $2,502,538.77 with the clerk of the court. Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal from that order, and on that appeal we held that the doctrine of sovereign immunity did not bar plaintiff's action and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in issuing the preliminary mandatory injunction. Board of Trustees v. Bakalis (1978), 64 Ill. App.3d 967, 382 N.E.2d 26.

In August 1978, during the pendency of the prior appeal, plaintiff filed a supplemental complaint alleging that the State Board has approved additional credit hour grants in the amount of $1,118,694.99 and $1,420,234. The approved vouchers for these claims were sent directly to the Comptroller, but plaintiff had not received payment. Subsequent to the filing of the supplemental complaint, payment of the vouchers mentioned in the supplemental complaint was made to the plaintiff. The credit hour grants mentioned in the original complaint remain unpaid.

After our opinion in the prior appeal, defendants filed their answers to plaintiff's complaint. All parties filed motions for summary judgment and agreed that no genuine issue of material fact exists in this case. In granting summary judgment for the plaintiff, the trial court stated that the action of the State Board in sending the approved vouchers for credit hour grants to the Department violated the clear directives of section 2-16 and further, that the Department had no duties with regard to credit hour grants under section 2-16. Accordingly, the trial court ordered defendants to pay $2,502,538.77 to the plaintiff.

OPINION

• 1 Before proceeding to defendants' substantive arguments, we must respond to plaintiff's procedural contention that our decision in the prior appeal precludes our review of this appeal. In short, plaintiff contends that all issues presently raised by the defendants were decided in the prior appeal, and therefore are not reviewable here. (Government Employees Insurance Co. v. Dennis (1967), 90 Ill. App.2d 356, 232 N.E.2d 750.) In the prior appeal we held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction. Under Illinois law, the function of an appellate court in reviewing the issuance of a preliminary injunction is restricted solely to a determination of whether the trial court correctly exercised its broad discretionary powers. (Toushin v. City of Chicago (1974), 23 Ill. App.3d 797, 320 N.E.2d 202.) Substantive issues are to be considered only so far as is necessary to determine whether the trial court acted within the perimeters of its authority. (Grillo v. Sidney Wanzer & Sons, Inc. (1975), 26 Ill. App.3d 1007, 326 N.E.2d 180.) In the prior appeal, before deciding whether the trial court abused its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction, we had to decide the threshold question of whether plaintiff's action for mandamus was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. We stated in resolving that issue:

"As our supreme court held in People ex rel. Freeman v. Department of Public Welfare (1938), 368 Ill. 505, 507, 14 N.E.2d 642, 643:

`[M]andamus lies to review the acts of administrative officers or boards where it appears they have acted arbitrarily or in abuse of discretion vested in them. [Citations.] We are of the opinion that the present proceeding charging arbitrary action or abuse of administrative discretion resulting from an erroneous construction of a statute is not a suit against the State.'

Because this action seeks to compel the performance of a duty in accordance with the law, we conclude that it should not be considered to be a suit against the State, and it was properly within the circuit court's jurisdiction. See County of Cook v. Ogilvie (1972), 50 Ill.2d 379, ...


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