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05/10/96 LEMONT-BROMBEREK COMBINED SCHOOL DISTRICT

May 10, 1996

THE LEMONT-BROMBEREK COMBINED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 113(A), COOK AND DUPAGE COUNTIES; JOSEPH FALESE, VICE-PRESIDENT; PATRICIA LAMB, SECRETARY; DOUGLAS DEGREGORIO, MEMBER; GEORGE RIMBO, MEMBER; PATRICIA MURUSARZ, MEMBER; CARLENE WESOLOWSKI, MEMBER, PLAINTIFFS AND COUNTERDEFENDANTS-APPELLEES,
v.
RONALD WALTER, PRESIDENT OF THE LEMONT-BROMBEREK COMBINED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 113(A), COOK AND DUPAGE COUNTIES, DEFENDANT (GARY A. KING, AS COUNTY CLERK OF DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS AND DUPAGE COUNTY EX REL. ANTHONY M. PECCARELLI, INTERVENING DEFENDANT AND COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Lester Foreman, Judge Presiding.

Presiding Justice McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court: Gordon and Cousins, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcnulty

PRESIDING JUSTICE McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court:

A combined school district brought this mandamus action to compel its school board president to issue refunding bonds and to compel the county clerk to levy taxes for the refunding bonds. On cross-motions for summary judgment based on stipulated facts, the trial court held that the School Code (105 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 1994)) gave the district authority to issue the bonds and levy the tax. The county clerk appeals from the mandamus order.

In 1985 petitioners from Bromberek School District No. 65 of DuPage County began proceedings pursuant to article 11B of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 11B-1 et seq., (now 105ILCS 5/11B-1 et seq. (West 1994))) for combination with Lemont School District No. 113 of Cook County. The districts merged to form the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District No. 113(a). Before the combination, the Bromberek district had one school building and no bonded debt, while the Lemont district had two school buildings and substantial bonded debt. Bromberek School District No. 65 v. Sanders, 174 Ill. App. 3d 301, 305, 528 N.E.2d 1336, 124 Ill. Dec. 228 (1988). The combined district used taxes assessed against Lemont properties to pay interest and principal of the outstanding debt; the district used no taxes collected from Bromberek for this purpose. Bonded debt of $4.25 million remained unpaid at the time of the summary judgment hearing. Some children from the former Bromberek district attend school in facilities built by the Lemont district, and some children from the former Lemont district attend the school in Bromberek.

On December 14, 1994, the board of education of the combined district adopted a resolution directing board president Ronald Walter to issue refunding bonds, with proceeds from the sale of the refunding bonds to be used to retire the bonded debt of the former Lemont district. Walter refused to perform the duties directed by the resolution, which he admitted to be ministerial, arguing that the combined district lacked authority to issue the refunding bonds. The combined district and members of its board of education then sued in mandamus for a court order directing Walter to take the steps necessary for issuance of the refunding bonds, and directing Gary King, the DuPage County clerk, to levy a tax against property in the Bromberek district for repayment of the refunding bonds once Walter filed the necessary documents. The trial court granted the State's Attorney for DuPage County leave to intervene, and the State's Attorney then countersued for a judgment declaring the limited taxation powers of the school district.

King argued that taxes to repay the refunding bonds must come solely from taxpayers in the former Lemont district, because that district issued the original bonds to be refunded by the refunding bonds. The State's Attorney adopted King's arguments.

The trial court found that article 19 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/19-1 et seq. (West 1994)) gave the board authority to direct Walter to issue the refunding bonds, and taxes for their repayment must be assessed against all property in the combined district. Therefore, the court granted mandamus against Walter and King. The parties agree that this appeal presents solely a question of statutory interpretation.

The court construing a statute must look primarily to the words of the statute as evidence of the legislature's intent. Stone v. Department of Employment Security Board of Review, 151 Ill. 2d 257, 261, 602 N.E.2d 808, 176 Ill. Dec. 862 (1992). "The sections of the School Code *** must be construed with reference to one another in order to give harmonious meaning to the act as a whole." Maiter v. Chicago Board of Education, 82 Ill. 2d 373, 389, 415 N.E.2d 1034, 47 Ill. Dec. 721 (1980). Courts construe statutes to give effect to each section ( People v. Maya, 105 Ill. 2d 281, 287, 473 N.E.2d 1287, 85 Ill. Dec. 482 (1985)), presuming that the legislature did not intend absurd, unjust or unreasonable consequences ( People v. Illinois Commerce Comm'n, 114 Ill. App. 3d 384, 387, 448 N.E.2d 986, 70 Ill. Dec. 108 (1983)). But the court

"must construe the statute as it is and may not, under the guise of construction, supply omissions, remedy defects, annex new provisions, substitute different provisions, add exceptions, limitations, or conditions, or otherwise change the law so as to depart from the plain meaning of the language employed in the statute." Buckellew v. Board of Education of Georgetown-Ridge Farm Community Unit School District No. 4, 215 Ill. App. 3d 506, 511, 575 N.E.2d 556, 159 Ill. Dec. 58 (1991).

In construing a statute, the court must create neither rights nor limitations unless the court infers them from statutory language. American Ambassador Casualty Co. v. City of Chicago, 205 Ill. App. 3d 879, 884, 563 N.E.2d 882, 150 Ill. Dec. 755 (1990). Statutes "should not be rewritten by a court to make them consistent with the court's idea of orderliness and public policy." Kozak v. Retirement Board of the Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund, 95 Ill. 2d 211, 220, 447 N.E.2d 394, 69 Ill. Dec. 177 (1983).

Section 11B-11 of the School Code provides:

"Whenever a new district is created under any of the provisions of this Act *** the outstanding bonded indebtedness shall be treated as hereinafter provided ***. *** Notwithstanding the creation of any such new district, the County Clerk or Clerks shall annually extend taxes for each outstanding bond issue against all the taxable property that was situated within the boundaries of the district as such boundaries existed at the time of the issuance of each such bond issue regardless of whether such property is still contained in that same district at the time of the extension of such taxes by the County Clerk or Clerks." 105 ILCS 5/11B-11 (West 1994).

In accord with this provision, the Cook County clerk extended taxes for the Lemont district bonds only against ...


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