Courts Grant Taxpayers United of America’s Motions in Three April 5th Referenda Irregularity Cases
On August 24, 2011 the Circuit Court of Cook County, by Judge LeRoy K. Martin, Jr., granted Anthony Peraica, former Cook County Commissioner and a concerned taxpayer in Riverside-Brookfield and Taxpayers United of America, (“TUA”) one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America, left to file an amended complaint in their case against the Riverside-Brookfield School District 208. The suit challenges the electioneering activities used by the school board in its unsuccessful attempt to have the voters approved a property tax increase referendum on April 5th. The amended complaint is due to be filed in two weeks.
In addition, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial Circuit, granted Noel Kuriakos and TUA’s motion to consolidate their appeal in the Oak Park District 97 referendum case with the appeal pending in the Wilmette School District 39 case, brought by TUA and Herbert Sorock. The Appellate Court’s Order was entered on August 18, 2011. Just days before, that same Appellate Court denied an effort by TUA and Sorock to accelerate the hearing of that appeal. Both appeals will now be heard together and on the regular schedule of the Court of Appeals, rather than on an expedited basis.
The suits filed against the Oak Park and Wilmette School Boards challenged the legality of the ballot used in the April 5th election. The referendum question on both ballots failed to include the State Equalization Factor in calculating the estimated property tax increases, thereby understating those increases by at least two-thirds of the actual amount, rendering the ballots and elections illegal.
Judge Mary Mikva, in the Oak Park case, and Judge Rita Novak, in the Wilmette case, ruled in favor of the school boards even though one State Senator had been quoted prior to the April 5th election as saying it was “just nuts” to conclude that the state equalization factor was not to be used in estimating the proposed property tax increase.