Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 94--TX--10028. Honorable John W. Darrah, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication July 11, 1997.
The Honorable Justice McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court. Geiger, P.j., and Inglis, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mclaren
The Honorable Justice McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court:
The plaintiff, the Du Page County Collector for the year 1993 (Collector), appeals the trial court's judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendants, 1212 Associates - MB Management Company, et al. (Objectors), in a tax objection case. We reverse and remand.
In 1993 the Glenside Public Library District levied a tax of $42,000 for building and equipment purposes which was extended at the rate of $0.0108 per $100 of assessed valuation. This tax was included in the 1994 tax bill paid by the defendant, Shaker Management Company (Shaker), in the amount of $36.96 (valuation of $341,180 x 0.0108%). Shaker paid the tax under protest and filed a timely objection pursuant to section 23--10 of the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/23--10 (West 1994)).
The Glenside Public Library District was, at the time of the levy, subject to the provisions of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Act (35 ILCS 245/1--1 et seq. (West 1992) (now 35 ILCS 200/18--185 et seq. (West 1994))) (hereinafter Tax Cap Act). The objection was made on the ground that the 1993 Glenside Public Library District levy violated section 18--190(a) of the Tax Cap Act (35 ILCS 200/18--190(a) (West 1994)) because it had not been approved by direct referendum.
The parties and objectors in other pending cases agreed that this matter was appropriate for consolidated disposition of the legal issue presented by Shaker. The Objectors presented the trial court with a test case stipulation identifying Glenside Public Library District and 1212 Associates, et al. as the representatives of all similarly situated taxing districts and objectors. The Objectors agreed that the results in this case would bind the others. The Objectors filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. On October 23, 1996, the trial court granted the Objectors' motion for judgment on the pleadings. The trial judge found that the Glenside Public Library District building and equipment levy was invalid because section 18--190 of the Tax Cap Act required a direct referendum before the levy could be extended. This timely appeal followed. The Du Page Library System filed an amicus brief in support of the Collector.
The standard guiding our review of the trial court's decision to grant the Objectors' motion for judgment on the pleadings is clear. Section 2--615(e) of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that any party may move for judgment on the pleadings. 735 ILCS 5/2--615(e) (West 1994). Further, the motion may be based on "defects in the pleadings" in that the complaint is "substantially insufficient in law." 735 ILCS 5/2--615(a) (West 1994). On review of the granting of a defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings, we must determine whether the allegations of the complaint, when interpreted in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, sufficiently set forth a cause of action on which relief may be granted. Mt. Zion State Bank & Trust v. Consolidated Communications, Inc., 169 Ill. 2d 110, 115, 214 Ill. Dec. 156, 660 N.E.2d 863 (1995); T&S Signs, Inc. v. Village of Wadsworth, 261 Ill. App. 3d 1080, 1083, 199 Ill. Dec. 467, 634 N.E.2d 306 (1994). Our review on appeal is de novo. Mt. Zion State Bank, 169 Ill. 2d at 115.
Section 35--5 of the Public Library District Act of 1991 (Public Library Act) (75 ILCS 16/35--5 (West 1994)) authorizes library districts to levy taxes for two purposes: (1) for "the establishment, maintenance, and support of a public library or libraries within the district or for contracting library service" (75 ILCS 16/35--5(a) (West 1994)); and (2) "for the purchase of sites and buildings, the construction and equipment of buildings, the rental of buildings required for library purposes, and maintenance, repairs, and alterations of library buildings and equipment" (75 ILCS 16/35--5(b) (West 1994)). The tax rate levied for the first purpose may not exceed 0.15% of the value of the taxable property within the district unless authorized by referendum; and, if approved, the tax rate may not exceed 0.60%. 75 ILCS 16/35--5(a) (West 1994). The tax rate levied for the second purpose may not exceed 0.02%. 75 ILCS 16/35--5(b) (West 1994). However, the 0.02% tax rate is subject to what is commonly referred to as a "back door referendum." Section 35--5(b) of the Public Library Act provides:
"In any year in which the board proposes to levy the additional 0.02% tax, the board shall adopt an ordinance determining to levy the tax. ***
Within 15 days after the adoption of the ordinance, it shall be published in accordance with Section 1--30. ***
If no petition is filed with the board within 30 days after publication or posting of the ordinance, the district shall then be authorized to levy the ...