In re APPLICATION OF ROBERT SKIDMORE, County Treasurer and ex officio County Collector of Lake County, for Judgment and Order of Sale Against Real Estate Returned Delinquent for the Nonpayment of General Taxes for the Year 2012 and Prior Years
Kenneth J. Meurer, Objector- Appellant Interstate Funding Corporation, Petitioner- Appellee,
from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 16-TD-446 13-TX-1
Honorable Daniel L. Jasica, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE ZENOFF delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices McLaren and Burke concurred in the judgment
1 Objector, Kenneth J. Meurer, appeals the decision of the
circuit court of Lake County granting the petition of
petitioner, Interstate Funding Corporation (Interstate), for
a tax deed. We affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On November 18, 2013, Interstate purchased the delinquent
taxes on a property in Lake County, Illinois, identified by
property index number (PIN) 12-28-102-099 and commonly known
as unit 309, 1301 N. Western Avenue, Lake Forest (the
property). The property was a condominium owned by Meurer.
The county clerk issued Interstate a certificate of sale
pursuant to section 21-250 of the Property Tax Code (Code)
(35 ILCS 200/21-250 (West 2016)).
4 On May 25, 2016, Interstate filed a petition for a tax deed
in the circuit court of Lake County. Interstate also filed a
notice pursuant to section 22-5 of the Code (35 ILCS 200/22-5
(West 2016)), which advised Meurer of the property's sale
for delinquent taxes and the date of the expiration of the
redemption period. This notice was a specimen form as
prescribed by the Code, and it was prepared by the county
clerk. Interstate acknowledges that it approved the notice.
The county clerk filled in the PIN on the line requiring a
certificate number. Interstate's subsequent notices also
contained the PIN on the lines requiring a certificate
5 On November 18, 2016, Meurer filed an objection to the
issuance of a tax deed, arguing that Interstate failed to
strictly comply with the Code "in numerous
instances." Meurer set forth only one vague and
conclusory example, that being "the certificate number
as identified on [Interstate's] take notices, which is
erroneous." Interstate responded that "Lake County
is the only Illinois County which does not specifically
designate a number for its tax sale certificates." Thus,
according to Interstate, it filled in the notices with the
PIN, which appeared on the certificate of sale.
6 On February 24, 2017, the court denied Meurer's
objection, and Meurer filed a motion to reconsider. Meurer
argued that Interstate's use of the PIN placed
"incorrect" information on the notices calling for
the certificate number. The court denied that motion on April
21, 2017. Also on April 21, 2017, Interstate filed an
application for an order directing the county clerk to issue
a tax deed. On that date, Interstate proved up its case,
the court entered the order so directing the county clerk.
Meurer filed a timely notice of appeal.
7 II. ANALYSIS
8 Meurer contends that writing in the PIN instead of
"not applicable" where the forms called for a
certificate number was an error that precluded the issuance
of a tax deed. Preliminarily, we address the state of the
record. Meurer takes issue with findings that the court
allegedly made at the hearing on his objection. No court
reporter was present, and Meurer has not filed a
bystander's report or an agreed statement of facts
pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 323 (eff. Dec. 13,
2005). Generally, where an appellant fails to furnish a
complete record of the proceedings at trial, we will presume
that the trial court's order was in conformity with the
law and had a sufficient factual basis. Foutch v.
O'Bryant, 99 Ill.2d 389, 392 (1984). However, the
sufficiency of the record turns on the question presented by
the appeal. In re Marriage of Abu-Hashim, 2014 IL
App (1st) 122997, ¶ 15. Because this appeal presents a
question of statutory construction, the record is
sufficiently complete for us to address the merits.
Nevertheless, any doubts and deficiencies arising from the
insufficient record will be construed against Meurer. See
Abu-Hashim, 2014 IL App (1st) 122997, ¶ 15
(doubts and deficiencies arising from an insufficient record
will be construed against the appellant).
9 We now turn to the merits. The tax-deed scheme consists, in
relevant part, of a series of complex notice provisions.
Section 22-5 of the Code requires a tax-sale purchaser to
deliver to the county clerk within 4 months and 15 days after
the tax sale a "post-sale" notice. 35 ILCS 200/22-5
(West 2016); In re Application of the County Treasurer
& ex officio County Collector, 2011 IL App (1st)
101966, ¶ 28 (hereinafter Glohry). Section 22-5
requires strict compliance. Glohry, 2011 IL App
(1st) 101966, ¶ 40. Section 22-10 (35 ILCS 200/22-10
(West 2016)) requires the purchaser to give to the owners,
occupants, and other parties interested in the property
notice of the sale and the date of expiration of the
redemption period. This is the "pre- expiration"
notice. Glohry, 2011 IL App (1st) 101966, ¶ 28.
Section 22-15 (35 ILCS 200/22-15 (West 2016)) requires that
the pre-expiration notice be served by the sheriff and also
by publication. Section 22-20 (35 ILCS 200/22-20 (West 2016))
requires that the sheriff's return of service and proof
of publication be filed with the circuit clerk. Section 22-25
(35 ILCS 200/22-25 (West 2016)) requires the purchaser to
file the pre-expiration notice with the circuit clerk, who
then mails it to those persons entitled to notice under
section 22-10. Section 22-40 (35 ILCS 200/22-40 (West 2016))
requires the court to "insist on strict compliance"
with sections 22-10 through 22-25 before ordering the county
clerk to issue a tax deed.
10 The petitioner for a tax deed must demonstrate that it
strictly complied with the notice requirements of the Code.
Glohry, 2011 IL App (1st) 101966, ¶ 44. The
legislature requires the specimen forms set forth in sections
22-5 and 22-10 to be "completely filled in." 35
ILCS 200/22-5, 22-10 (West 2016). As indicated, each specimen
form has a line for the certificate-of-sale number. Whether
using the PIN as the certificate number strictly complied
with the statute is a question of statutory construction,
which we review de novo. In re Application of
the County Treasurer & ex officio County Collector,
2013 IL App (1st) 130103, ¶ 10 (hereinafter
11 A reviewing court's primary objective in construing a
statute is to give effect to the legislature's intent.
Flamm, 2013 IL App (1st) 130103, ¶ 9. The best
indication of the legislature's intent is the plain and
ordinary meaning of the statute. Flamm, 2013 IL App
(1st) 130103, ¶ 9. A statute should be evaluated as a
whole, with each provision construed in connection with every
other section. Bonaguro v. County Officers Electoral
Board, 158 Ill.2d 391, 397 (1994). Courts presume that
the legislature did not intend to create absurd,
inconvenient, or unjust results. Flamm, 2013 IL App
(1st) 130103, ¶ 9. Courts ...