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Moline School District No. 40 Board of Education v. Quinn

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

July 15, 2015

MOLINE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 40 BOARD OF EDUCATION, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
HONORABLE PAT QUINN, Governor of the State of Illinois; THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; BRIAN A. HAMER, as Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue; THE ROCK ISLAND COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW and its members DAN DePORTER, JOAN RUSSELL, and DICK SCHROEDER; LARRY WILSON, Chief County Assessor, Rock Island County; WINNA PANNELL, Blackhawk Township Assessor, Rock Island County; and ROSE BOOKER, Coal Valley Township Assessor, Rock Island County; all in their official capacities, Defendants-Appellees (Elliot Aviation, Inc., and Coal Valley Fire Protection District, Intervening Defendants-Appellees)

Page 283

As Corrected.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois, Circuit No. 13-MR-296. Honorable Frank R. Fuhr, Judge, presiding.

Patrick J. Hanlon and Floyd D. Perkins (argued), both of Nixon Peabody LLP, of Chicago, and Daniel Churchill and Mark D. Churchill, both of Churchill & Churchill P.C., of Moline, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Evan Siegel (argued), Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellees Brian A. Hamer, Pat Quinn, and Illinois Department of Revenue.

Robert V.P. Waterman, Jr., and Jason J. O'Rourke (argued), both of Lane & Waterman LLP, of Davenport, Iowa, for appellee Elliot Aviation, Inc.

Holdridge and Wright, Justices concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 284

CARTER, JUSTICE.

[¶1] This appeal arises from a constitutional challenge brought by the plaintiff, the Moline School District No. 40 Board of Education (School District), to an amendment to the Illinois Property Tax Code, by way of Public Act 97-1161, which provided a real property tax exemption on leasehold interests and improvements on land leased from the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County to fixed based operators (FBOs) providing aeronautical services.

[¶2] The trial court denied the School District's motion for summary judgment and granted the summary judgment motion of the intervening-defendant, Elliot Aviation, Inc., a private company that received a property tax exemption as a result of the amendment. The School District appealed, arguing that Public Act 97-1161 violates the Illinois Constitution, which prohibits: (1) " Special Legislation" ; (2) property tax exemptions except for on certain specified property; and (3) non-uniform taxation upon real property. We reverse and remand with directions.

[¶3] FACTS

[¶4] Public Act 97-1161 amended the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/1-1 et seq. (West 2014)) by providing an exemption from property taxes on leasehold interests and improvements at the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County for fixed based operators (FBOs) providing aeronautical services. Pub. Act 97-1161 (eff. June 1, 2013). Public Act 97-1161 added subsection (c) to section 15-160 of the Property Tax Code, as follows:

" If property of the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County is leased to a fixed base operator that provides

Page 285

aeronautical services to the public, then those leasehold interests and any improvements thereon are exempt." 35 ILCS ...

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