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In re Application of Anderson as County Treasurer

May 05, 2000

IN RE APPLICATION OF JACK ANDERSON AS COUNTY TREASURER, FOR JUDGMENT FIXING THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF ANY TAX PAID UNDER PROTEST FOR THE YEARS 1990 THROUGH 1996
(P. JAMES PERILLE, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, V. THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; DAVID D. ORR, THE COUNTY CLERK OF COOK COUNTY; WILLARD ROOKS HELANDER, THE COUNTY CLERK OF LAKE COUNTY; AND JACK ANDERSON, THE COUNTY TREASURER OF LAKE COUNTY, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES (COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT 220, INTERVENOR-APPELLEE; P. JAMES PERILLE, ET AL., OBJECTORS- APPELLANTS)).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 91--TX--5, Obj. #34 92--TX--6, Obj. #15 93--TX--3, Obj. #18 94--TX--2, Obj. #12 95--TX--2, Obj. #11 96--TX--1, Obj. #13 97--TX--3, Obj. #7 Honorable Emilio B. Santi, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McLAREN

P. James Perille and other tax objectors appeal the judgment of the trial court dismissing with prejudice their tax objections. As a third-party plaintiff, Perille also appeals the dismissal with prejudice of the second amendment to the third-party complaint seeking mandamus, for failure to state a cause of action. We reverse and remand.

This case consolidates tax objections from the years 1990 through 1996 and one action in mandamus against the Department of Revenue (DOR). Each of the tax objections alleged that the objectors owned real estate in Lake County and that the property was located within the boundaries of Barrington Community Unit School District 220 (District 220), which includes property in Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry Counties. The objectors alleged that the DOR, in each of the tax years in question, incorrectly certified an erroneously high percentage of District 220's tax burden to taxpayers in Lake County. The objections sought refunds of the incorrect portions of the taxes paid in each of those years.

The objectors filed a petition for writ of mandamus in December 1995, which was amended in May 1996 and January 1998. The second amended petition was directed against the DOR, Cook County Clerk David Orr, and Lake County Clerk Willard Helander. Orr's motion to dismiss was granted in May 1997, and that order of dismissal is not part of this appeal. The DOR, Helander, and District 220, as an intervenor, also filed motions to dismiss, and, after a hearing on June 25, 1998, the court entered an order continuing the cause to July 9 for the entry of an order dismissing "said causes of action."

James Perille requested leave to file a third amended third-party petition on July 7. However, the court dismissed the tax objections and the second amended mandamus petition with prejudice on July 9. Perille filed a motion for rehearing of the court's dismissal of the second amended mandamus petition and a motion to file a third amended mandamus petition. Both motions were denied. This appeal followed.

The motions to dismiss in this case are a mixed lot. District 220 brought its motion to dismiss the tax objections pursuant to section 2-- 615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--615 (West 1998)). Defendants Lake County Treasurer Jack Anderson and Lake County Clerk Helander joined in this motion. Anderson and Helander also renewed Anderson's prior motion to dismiss, which was brought pursuant to sections 2--615 and 2--619 (735 ILCS 5/2--619 (West 1998)) and prayed for the dismissal of the tax objections and the mandamus petition. These sections entail different theories for dismissal.

SECTION 2--615 MOTIONS

The granting of a section 2--615 motion is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Ray v. Coyne, 259 Ill. App. 3d 269, 274 (1994). However, such a motion should be granted only when it clearly appears that no set of facts could ever be proved that would entitle the plaintiff to recover. Mt. Zion State Bank & Trust v. Consolidated Communications, Inc., 169 Ill. 2d 110, 115 (1995). In ruling on a section 2--615 motion, only those facts apparent from the face of the pleadings, matters of which the court can take judicial notice, and judicial admissions in the record may be considered. Mt. Zion, 169 Ill. 2d at 115. On review of an order granting such a motion, all well- pleaded facts and all reasonable inferences from them are taken as true. Mt. Zion, 169 Ill. 2d at 115.

SECTION 2--619 MOTIONS

A section 2-619 motion affords a means of obtaining summary disposition of issues of law or easily proved issues of fact. American National Bank & Trust Co. v. Village of Libertyville, 269 Ill. App. 3d 400, 403 (1995). For purposes of such a motion, all well-pleaded facts of the complaint are admitted and taken as true; only the legal sufficiency of the complaint is at issue. American National Bank, 269 Ill. App. 3d at 403.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The review of the granting of either a section 2--615 or a section 2--619 motion is de novo. Becker v. Zellner, 292 Ill. App. 3d 116, 122 (1997). In the case before us, the court concluded that both the objections and the petition for mandamus "fail[ed] to state a cause of action for which relief can be granted." Our analysis, therefore, will determine if the tax objection stated a cause of action without deference to any findings made by the trial court.

TAX OBJECTION ANALYSIS

A tax objection complaint "shall name the county collector as defendant and shall specify any objections that the plaintiff may have to the taxes in question." 35 ILCS 200/23--15(a) (West 1998). The Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/1--1 et seq. (West 1998)) (the Code) is not more specific in identifying what must be alleged in order to state a cause of action in a tax objection petition. Taking the 1996 tax objection complaint as representative of all the objections, we see that the objectors allege that they owned property within the boundaries of District 220, which includes properties in Lake, Cook, McHenry, and Kane Counties. Citing section 18--155 of the Code (35 ILCS 200/18--155 (West 1998)), the objectors allege that, where taxing bodies lie in more than one county, the DOR must apportion the amount of taxes to be raised so that each county in which the district lies bears the burden of taxation as though all parts of the overlapping district had been assessed at the same proportion of actual value and shall certify to each county clerk the percentage of the burden that the clerk is to extend upon the equalized valuation of district property lying in the clerk's county. In layman's terms, the taxpayers in each county should pay their fair share of taxes based upon a fair apportionment of their respective properties regardless of differences in levels of assessment in adjoining counties. See 35 ILCS 200/18--155 (West 1998). The DOR certified to the clerk of Lake County that 46.70% of the total extension for District 220 for the tax ...


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