Wilmette School District 39 attorneys and Wilmette resident Herb Sorock are set to return Thursday morning to Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago’s Daley Center to learn what awaits Sorock’s lawsuit against the district.
At an 11:15 a.m. hearing, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita M. Novak could grant a temporary restraining order to keep the district from collecting new taxes generated by their successful tax hike referendum — which Sorock and co-plaintiff Taxpayers United of America want her to do — or she could instead dismiss their case against the district altogether.
Sorock, who unsuccessfully fought the district’s 35-cent rate hike campaign, joined forces with Chicago-based Taxpayers United May 16 to sue it, alleging district officials knew before April 5 that referendum language on the ballot understated the proposed increase by not including the state-imposed tax equalizer in its formula.
Following an initial court appearance before Novak on May 23, both sides in the fight submitted supporting briefs to Novak.
In their brief, Sorock and Taxpayers United claim that Chapman and Cutler, the Chicago law firm which acted as the district’s legal counsel on the referendum, should be held responsible for what Taxpayer’s United claim is “bad advice” on ballot language.
The District 39 lawsuit challenges the legality of the ballot language, and claims that the actual question voters saw failed to include the state equalizer, thereby understating the tax increase by at least two-thirds of the actual amount. The language used in the referendum would allow the district to collect more than $49 million in taxes, including new taxes generated by the referendum.
District 39 officials argue that the language was not only checked by Chapman and Cutler, but is required by state law. They also said they made no secret of how much they actually wanted to collect, and even passed a resolution promising to collect no more than the $43.93 million they said they needed.
Taxpayers United’s progress in both lawsuits has been bumpy thus far. On May 23, Novak removed District 39 board members as defendants. On May 24, Cook County Judge Mary Mikva refused to grant a temporary restraining order against another district being sued by Taxpayers United, Oak Park School District 97.
And on June 6, Cook County Court Judge Moshe Jacobius rejected an effort by Taxpayers United to consolidate the District 39 action with the District 97 lawsuit.