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Schlenz v. Castle

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 20, 1981.

RUSSELL G. SCHLENZ ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

JOHN W. CASTLE, DIRECTOR OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, ET AL. (ROBERT JASPER, SUPERVISOR OF ASSESSMENTS, ET AL., APPELLANTS). — THE COUNTY OF SHELBY, APPELLANT,

v.

THE PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD, APPELLEE.



No. 53189. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County, the Hon. Charles F. Scott, Judge, presiding.

No. 53286. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Shelby County, the Hon. Charles E. Jones, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 27, 1981.

E.C. Eberspacher, State's Attorney, of Shelbyville, for appellant.

William J. Scott, Attorney General, of Springfield (Gary D. Kuhar, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellee.

Jack L. Uretsky, of Chicago, for the amici curiae from Du Page County.

Robert S. Cushman and Thomas J. McNulty, of Keck, Mahin & Cate, of Chicago, for amicus curiae Commonwealth Edison Company.

These consolidated cases present the question of the validity of section 318.1 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 120, par. 799.1). In cause No. 53189 plaintiffs filed an application for leave to appeal from the order of the circuit court of Lake County entered pursuant to Rule 308(a) (73 Ill.2d R. 308(a)). The appellate court allowed leave to appeal, reversed the order in part, and affirmed it in part (80 Ill. App.3d 1131), and we allowed plaintiffs' petition for leave to appeal. In cause No. 53286 the defendant Property Tax Appeal Board appealed from the judgment of the circuit court of Shelby County entered in the action brought by the County of Shelby for administrative review of the Property Tax Appeal Board's decision holding certain assessments invalid. The appellate court reversed (81 Ill. App.3d 327), and we allowed the county's petition for leave to appeal. The causes were ordered consolidated for argument and opinion.

Cause No. 53189 is another in a series of actions involving the alleged failure of the appropriate officials to equalize real property assessments in this State. See, e.g., Hamer v. Kirk (1978), 57 Ill. App.3d 335; Hamer v. Kirk (1976), 65 Ill.2d 211; Hamer v. Kirk (1976), 64 Ill.2d 434; Hamer v. Lehnhausen (1975), 60 Ill.2d 400; Hamer v. Mahin (1973), 13 Ill. App.3d 51; Hamer v. Mahin (1970), 47 Ill.2d 252; People ex rel. Hamer v. Jones (1968), 39 Ill.2d 360.

In their two-count first amended complaint filed in the circuit court of Lake County, plaintiffs Russell G. Schlenz and Nancy A. Schlenz named as defendants the Director of the Department of Local Government Affairs, the supervisor of assessments of Lake County, the Lake County board of review and certain Lake County township assessors. In count I plaintiffs, purporting to act as representatives of a class, sought, inter alia, an order declaring that a specified procedure utilizing "sales ratio studies" for assessment and equalization of realty be made applicable statewide for 1977 and subsequent tax years. Plaintiffs also sought an order declaring that the defendants must comply with applicable provisions of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 120, par. 482 et seq.) for 1977 and subsequent tax years. In count II plaintiffs sought injunctive relief to enforce the declarations prayed in count I of the complaint.

A "Supplemental Complaint" was filed "attacking the method of distributing state grants-in-aid" (see Hamer v. Dixon (1978), 61 Ill. App.3d 30), and the first amended complaint was further amended seeking to challenge the tax-exempt status of certain property in Lake County.

Citing Andrews v. Foxworthy (1978), 71 Ill.2d 13, plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment alleging that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact relative to the failure of the defendants * * * to publish the real estate assessment lists for the 1977 tax year in Lake County until after December 15, 1977, except in Shields Township." Plaintiffs also moved for a determination of their class as consisting of "all persons or entities owning improved real property used for single family residential purposes subject to taxation in the State of Illinois for the 1977 tax year and subsequent tax years." Defendants filed a motion to deny, and an "objection to the motion" for determination of the class. The circuit court denied plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and allowed defendants' motion and objection opposing the class certification. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308(a) (73 Ill.2d R. 308(a)) the circuit court certified the issues of the propriety of a class action and the constitutionality of the statute.

The appellate court affirmed that portion of the order which denied class certification, held that section 318.1 was unconstitutional as an attempt to validate a void tax and as violative of the principle of the separation of powers (see Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1), and remanded the cause for a determination of the existence of a ...


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