Both sides in the legal battle over Wilmette School District 39’s successful tax referendum proposal will have to settle for the regular pace of appeal proceedings now that the Illinois Appellate Court has rejected a request to place the case on its accelerated docket.
Such a placement could have cut the time until a final decision by several weeks, said an attorney for the anti-referendum plaintiffs who first sued the district last spring and are now appealing the June dismissal of that lawsuit.
“Now it will be a matter of months,” Andrew Spiegel said Monday. Placement on the accelerated docket might have cut that to fewer than 50 days.
Spiegel said the court gave no reason for rejecting his July 18 motion when the denial was issued on July 26.
District 39 officials had not opposed the attempt to go to an accelerated docket, although their reasons differed from those of Spiegel and his clients. But they were not upset by the court’s decision, Superintendent Raymond Lechner said Monday.
“We were fine with it being accelerated, because we would get (the case) over with faster, but we’re also fine with it as it is now. To our minds we have already won the case, and the tax collection will go ahead with the results of the referendum in place.”
Wilmette resident Herbert Sorock and Oak Park-based anti-tax group Taxpayers United of America sued District 39 in May, claiming that the wording of an April 5 tax rate hike referendum proposal was illegal. They asked a Cook County Court judge to rule in their favor and overturn the proposal, which passed voter muster by a 63 percent margin.
After Judge Rita M. Novak instead ruled in favor of the school district, dismissing the case June 23, Sorock and Taxpayers United appealed her decision.
Spiegel said he is still waiting for word on whether the court will grant his motion to consolidate the District 39 appeal with a similar appeal he and Taxpayers United filed after losing a court fight against Oak Park School District 97.
That case, like the one against District 39, challenged the legality of a successful tax rate hike referendum, on the basis of the wording on the ballot. It was thrown out on July 1 by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva.