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Lemaster v. City of Green Rock

OPINION FILED APRIL 22, 1983.

AUGUSTUS LEMASTER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE CITY OF GREEN ROCK ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Henry County; the Hon. Susan B. Gende, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff Augustus Lemaster filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, injunction and writ of mandamus against defendants city of Green Rock and its clerk, Martha Sawyer, alleging that certain payments constituted an unlawful increase in her salary. After a hearing on the merits and other determinations not germane to this appeal, the circuit court of Henry County entered summary judgment in defendants' favor.

In April 1979, Sawyer was elected city clerk of Green Rock, and she received a monthly salary for serving in this part-time position. By ordinance the clerk was also designated as the city collector. By tradition, however, the functions of that position were delegated to a deputy clerk, and Sawyer maintained that tradition. In July 1980, the deputy clerk resigned in an effort to eliminate what plaintiff believed would have been a potential conflict of interest, and Sawyer assumed her duties. In September 1980, an ordinance was passed and, pursuant to its terms, Sawyer began to receive personally those sums previously appropriated for the function of collection and paid to the deputy clerk. Presented for our review is the sole issue of whether the trial court correctly ruled that the city did not pay, and Sawyer did not receive, an unlawful increase in salary.

The controversy at bar stems from constitutional and statutory provisions. Article VII, section 9(b) of the 1970 Constitution of the State of Illinois provides:

"An increase or decrease in the salary of an elected officer of any unit of local government shall not take effect during the term for which that officer is elected."

Section 3-13-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code (hereinafter the Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 24, par. 3-13-1) provides, inter alia:

"All municipal officers, except as otherwise provided, shall receive the salary, fees, or other compensation that is fixed by ordinance. After they are once fixed, these salaries, fees, or other compensation shall not be increased or diminished, so as to take effect during the term of any elected municipal officer. The salaries, fees or other compensation of any appointed municipal officer, not including those appointed to fill vacancies in elective offices, may be increased but not diminished so as to take effect during the term for which such officer was appointed."

Plaintiff contends that Sawyer is an elected municipal officer whose salary was increased when she began receiving the former deputy clerk's compensation.

Section 3-4-3 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 24, par. 3-4-3) provides:

"No mayor, alderman, city clerk, or city treasurer, shall hold any other office under the city government during his term of office except as otherwise provided in Sections 3-4-15 and 3-11-28."

Section 3-11-28 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 24, par. 3-11-28) pertains to clerks:

"In any city having a population of less than 1,000,000 in which the city council has provided for the appointment of a city collector, the city council may provide by ordinance that the city clerk shall hold the office of city collector."

Compensation in such a situation is addressed in section 3-13-11 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 24, par. 3-13-11):

"In municipalities where the same person holds the elective office of municipal clerk and the appointive office of municipal collector, the corporate authorities may provide by ordinance for such person to ...


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