Prickly relations between Wilmette School District 39 and the village resident who sued to overturn the district’s recently won tax referendum continued Tuesday, after district officials hinted in a press release that they were looking at ways to recoup the cost of defending against the lawsuit.
Board President Karen Donnan, in a statement applauding the June 23 dismissal of Herb Sorock’s lawsuit against the district, said the board has asked Superintendent Raymond Lechner for a complete accounting of all money spent defending against the suit.
Donnan said “we will be considering our options for recouping these costs.”
Sorock, whose joint suit with anti-taxation group Taxpayers United of America was dismissed by Cook County Court Judge Rita Novak, in turn suggested that any attempt by the district to demand money from him might be met by more legal action.
“Just as a general principle, we are not a ‘loser pays’ country. Generally speaking, the only time you can recover costs is in a frivolous lawsuit,” Sorock said. “If you review the transcript of the June 23 proceedings, it’s quite clear that this is anything but that. If you read the 50-some page transcription, (Novak) did acknowledge there were two sides to the suit, so it was hardly some frivolous suit.
“I will simply say that if the district insists on pursuing that, they will face an action from me … they need to understand that.”
Sorock also said he and the attorneys who represented him at the taxpayers’ group in court have not yet decided whether to appeal the dismissal. An appeal would not be easy, and would be costly, he said. Additionally, “the process might very likely take place in a longer time frame than we have available to enjoin the collection of the new taxes.”
In April, District 39 taxpayers approved, by a 63 percent margin, a tax referendum allowing for a 35 cent tax rate hike.
Sorock and Taxpayers United sued School District 39 in May, charging that the referendum question placed by the district on the April 5 ballot, improperly failed to include the state multiplier, thus understating the amount of money taxpayers would have to pay.