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Lawsuit Filed Against D39 Referendum

Tax increase disputed after confusion over ballot question resurfaces.

A lawsuit filed by an anti-tax group aims to overturn the results of Wilmette's School District 39's tax hike referendum.

The complaint, filed Monday in Cook County court by resident Herbert Sorock and Taxpayers United of America, names the entire, newly-elected District 39 school board as defendants. This comes on the heels of a similar suit .

At the center of the lawsuit is an allegation that language appearing on the actual ballot question misled voters. The referendum passed, with .

Check out the letter that TUA sent to D39 officials .

Weeks before the April 5 election, the state's equalizer — a number the Illinois Department of Revenue determines each year to ensure that Cook County assessments are in line with assessments from across the state — wasn't factored into the ballot question's wording by District 39s law firm, who drew it up.

Whether or not the state's equalizer has to be included on ballot language is up for dispute. The law firm, Chapman and Cutler, has said it's not necessary. But legislation introduced in Springfield this month could require its inclusion of future ballots, according to Wednesday Journal.

Still, Sorock and the anti-tax group say its exclusion means voters weren't presented with an accurate estimate of the tax hike's impact on residents' wallets. According to the complaint:

The suit alleges the Board and its members knew before the election that the estimated tax increase was understated, but decided to go forward with the referendum regardless.  Wilmette and at least nine other school districts understated the property tax increase by failing to include the equalizer applicable to all Cook County property tax bills.

District officials have acknowledged the confusion, but say the figures they used to inform residents — the estimated impact of the tax hike would — are accurate.

Facts May 19, 2011 at 05:09 AM
Well, GP, is it a big stretch to point out that perhaps you're misguided in your understanding of how a high-performing school district maintains quality in a community that demands superior education for students?Those who care about D39 education can rest easy knowing you're not in charge of overseeing curriculum & instruction, student oversight, or any other matter pertaining to school operations.
GrossPoint May 20, 2011 at 11:28 AM
It might have been illegal for D39 employees to campaign for tax increases, if this lawsuit in Buffalo Grove goes anywhere: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-05-18/news/ct-met-library-lawsuit-05-19-20110518_1_library-district-library-board-library-officials It would have been much better if our administration just followed some common sense non-participation in the tax hike campaign.
Quis Custodiet June 07, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Almost a month later, and here is what Christina Tobin and Herb Sorock have achieved so far. They filed seven frivolous claims against the volunteer board members in Wilmette, trying to intimidate them by making them pay for the lawsuit individually. The Judge dismissed those claims immediately because they were utterly baseless, and Sorock's attorney had no plausible argument for having included them. Similar claims will likely be dismissed in the Oak Park case. Speaking of the Oak Park case, Christina Tobin's motion for TRO was soundly defeated, the judge having found little likelihood of success, no emergency whatsoever, and no irreparable harm. In Wilmette, Sorock filed a motion to consolidate the two cases, which was soundly denied yesterday. He now faces a Motion to Dismiss the entirety of his case, for which he has no sound arguments. All in all, Christina Tobin and Herb Sorock have engaged in an utter waste of time for the citizens, boards, and court system. For what? To get into the press in order to further their selfish political agenda.
Margaret Mcintyre June 09, 2011 at 02:40 PM
I am most interested in the number of property tax protests/petitions that have been filed since the Referendum passed. Illinois tax code allows for taxing bodies (schools) to use tax payer money to hire attorneys to fight property owner tax assessment appeals/petitions. I voted against such efforts when I served on the Wilmette School Board. Interestingly, a board member who petitioned his own property taxes voted for the legal action against his neighbors' property assessment appeals. For this reason, I suspect that folks who may have voted "yes" to the Referendum (publicly), have/will file individual property tax petitions to lower their own share of the new tax burden. Remember, if I or my neighbor win a property tax petition, those tax dollars must come from somewhere--which is the neighbor(s) who don't file (and win) a tax assessment appeal/protest.
RallyCap July 25, 2011 at 07:03 PM
I would like Herb Sorock to defend the "generous, lavish, and gold-plated" boondoggles the Tax Payers United group attends in Las Vegas (http://www.taxpayersunitedofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/TUA_vegas_flyer.pdf) and NYC (http://www.lfnyc.com/). Is this anything but proof that Sorock's "job" is to continue to file frivolous lawsuits against D39 so that his "organization" appears relevant at parties such as these. Anyone who has donated to TUA really ought to demand to see the books; what's being spent on advocacy and non-profit activities vs. going into the pockets of TUA "leadership" for such trips.

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