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Board of Education v. Kusper

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 22, 1982.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 211, COOK COUNTY, PETITIONER,

v.

STANLEY T. KUSPER, JR., COUNTY CLERK, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.

CHIEF JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The petitioner, the board of education of Township High School District No. 211, Cook County, Illinois (board), filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the circuit court of Cook County to compel the respondent, the county clerk of Cook County, to extend the board's 1981 taxes in the full amount requested in the tax-levy ordinance for that year without reduction or limitation by virtue of the provisions in the Truth in Taxation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 120, par. 861 et seq.). Both the petitioner and the respondent filed motions for summary judgment. The circuit court denied the petitioner's motion for summary judgment, dismissed its petition for a writ of mandamus, and entered summary judgment for the respondent. The board appealed, and we granted a motion for a direct appeal to this court pursuant to Rule 302(b) (73 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). We expedited the hearing because of the necessity for an early determination and announced our affirmance of the trial court on June 29, 1982, noting that an opinion would be filed at a later date. We now set forth in this opinion the reasons for our affirmance.

The primary issue in this appeal is whether the term "aggregate levy," as used in the Truth in Taxation Act, includes the amount of money the board had levied for debt-service purposes, that is, the amount that had been levied for the purpose of paying principal and interest on bonded indebtedness. In our affirmance of the trial court's ruling we hold that the term "aggregate levy," as used in the Act, does not include the debt-service levy.

Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Truth in Taxation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 120, pars. 863, 864, 865) provide:

"Sec. 3. The purpose of this Act is to require taxing districts to disclose by publication and to hold a public hearing on their intention to adopt an aggregate levy in amounts more than 105% of the amount of property taxes extended or estimated to be extended upon the levy of the preceding year.

Sec. 4. Not less than 20 days prior to the adoption of its aggregate levy, hereafter referred to as `levy', the corporate authority of each taxing district shall determine the amounts of money, exclusive of any portion of that levy attributable to the cost of conducting an election required by the general election law, hereafter referred to as `election costs', estimated to be necessary to be raised by taxation for that year upon the taxable property in its district.

Sec. 5. Until it has complied with the notice and hearing provisions of this Act, no taxing district shall levy an amount of ad valorem tax which is more than 105% of the amount, exclusive of election costs, which has been extended or is estimated will be extended upon the levy of the preceding year."

The Act does not define the term "aggregate levy."

In this case, the board published no notice and held no hearing, as required by the Act, relating to its 1981 tax levy. The board construed the term "aggregate levy," as used in the Act, to include the taxes levied for debt service. On September 18, 1981, the board filed its 1981 tax-levy certificate with the county clerk of Cook County. By including the debt-service levy in its computation, the board determined that its 1981 levy was 104.8% of its 1980 tax extension. Since the 1981 levy was less than 105% of the 1980 extension, the board concluded that no notice or hearing was required by the Act.

The county clerk, by excluding the debt-service levy, found that the 1981 levy was 110.5% of the 1980 tax extension for the district, which the county clerk concluded required that the notice and hearing provisions of the Act be complied with.

In May 1982 the county clerk of Cook County notified the board that its 1981 tax levy did not comply with the Act and refused to extend the amount of taxes which the clerk had determined exceeded 105% of the 1980 extension. The clerk took the position that the term "aggregate levy" did not include the debt-service levy of the school district. This position is supported by an opinion of the Attorney General of the State of Illinois dated October 15, 1981. The board then petitioned the circuit court of Cook County for a writ of mandamus to compel the county clerk to extend the plaintiffs' 1981 taxes as levied, with the result as above indicated.

The board argues that a debt-service levy is one portion of the total tax levied each year on the property of the taxpayers. The board contends that under principles of statutory construction, the plain and ordinary meaning of the term "aggregate levy" encompasses all property taxes levied, including the debt-service levy. The intention and purpose of the legislature in enacting the Truth in Taxation Act, according to the board, was to require taxing districts to publicly disclose the amount and purpose of all property taxes levied in any year whenever the taxes increase 5% over the prior year.

The board also argues that the Act itself expressly exempts election costs from the "aggregate levy" and, therefore, that must be the only exemption or exception the legislature intended to grant.

This argument of the board is not convincing. Section 4 of the Act refers to costs of conducting an election required by the general election law. As to school elections, sections 9-1 and 9-1.1 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, pars. 9-1, 9-1.1) provide that school elections and referenda shall be governed and shall be in accordance with the general election law of the State. Article 2A of the Election Code (general election law) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 46, par. 2A-1 et seq.) provides for the time of holding elections. Pursuant to article 2A, all elections, with certain exceptions, are to be held in accordance with the consolidated schedule set out in that article. Section 17-30 of the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 46, par. 17-30) provides that the counties shall pay the costs and expenses of elections within the county, other than those within the jurisdiction of a municipal board of election commissioners. However, for each emergency referendum ...


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