People ex rel. Toman v. Otis' Estate, 25927.

Citation376 Ill. 112,33 N.E.2d 202
Decision Date08 April 1941
Docket NumberNo. 25927.,25927.
PartiesPEOPLE ex rel. TOMAN, County Collector, v. OTIS' ESTATE.
CourtSupreme Court of Illinois


Proceeding by the People, on the relation of John L. Toman, County Collector, against the estate of Philo A. Otis, for a judgment and order for sale of defendant's property because of nonpayment of taxes. From a judgment sustaining defendant's objections and ordering a refund of taxes paid under protest, relator appeals.

Judgment reversed and remanded with directions.Appeal from Cook County Court; Edmund K. Jarecki, Judge.

Thomas J. Courtney, State's Atty., Richard S. Folsom, John O. Rees, and Kirkland, Fleming, Green, Martin & Ellis, all of Chicago (Joseph B. Fleming, Thomas M. Thomas, and Thomas F. Scully, all of Chicago, of counsel), for appellant.

Robert N. Holt, Adelbert Brown, and Barr, Barr & Corcoran, all of Chicago, for appellee.

WILSON, Justice.

The defendant, the estate of Philo A. Otis, having previously paid its taxes in full, under protest, filed objections in the county court of Cook county to an application of the county collector for a judgment against and an order for the sale of real estate for the non-payment of certain taxes for the year 1938 levied by the board of education of the city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District. From the judgment sustaining these objections and ordering a refund of the excess amount paid by the defendant, the collector appeals.

The county clerk extended a rate of $3.18 for taxes levied by the board of education. This rate included a levy of .012774, representing the following item in the budget of the board of education to be paid from its building fund:

                ¦‘Special Accounts Not Appropriated for Elsewhere-70              ¦
                ¦* * *                                                            ¦
                ¦         ¦‘Maintenance of Plant:                   ¦             ¦
                ¦‘3-Z-600.¦Materials, Supplies and Expenses and     ¦             ¦
                ¦         ¦supervision of painting and decorating in¦             ¦
                ¦         ¦conjunction with WPA Projects            ¦$250,000.00.‘¦

The objection to this item is that it is indefinite, vague and uncertain, and, further, that it is not for a corporate purpose.

It appears that the Works Progress Administration, (hereafter referred to as WPA,) an agency of the United States, furnishes labor for municipal improvements, without charge, if public authorities such as the board of education will, in turn, supply the necessary material, supplies and expenses incident to a particular project. The extent to which the WPA renders financial assistance on projects sponsored by the board, or like public body, is dependent upon the funds and man-power available from month to month. Specifically, the policy of WPA is to make no commitments with respect to any designated school building. Accordingly, when the budget was being prepared, the challenged appropriation could not be broken down either as to the particular school buildings where any part of the appropriation would be used or the proportion which would be spent for materials, supplies, expenses or supervision, or the amount which would be used for painting, as distinguished from decorating, for the adequate reason that details could not be determined until WPA indicated the building on which it was willing to give aid and the time when it was willing to do the work. In short, all the board could and did do was to indicate that it would spend a specified amount on painting and decorating. The auditor for the board of education explained the futility, if not folly, of breaking down the appropriation any further by an apt illustration: If the board had appropriated $30,000 for materials, supplies, expenses and supervision incident to painting and decorating the Hyde Park High School, this sum would be specifically allocated to the building named, and if, thereafter, the WPA, owing to a shortage of funds or labor, declined to participate in this proposed improvement the board would thereby have deprived itself of free labor that otherwise might have been furnished by the WPA. Another witness, the chief WPA project engineer of the board of education, testified that the Federal funds from which expenditures were to be made in 1938 on WPA projects were appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1938 (the fiscal year of the board of education begins on January 1, and, prior to January 1, 1938, the board had to appropriate for the entire year); that these funds were allotted by WPA to the individual States on the basis of total employment and established wages; that such allotment being made on a monthly basis necessarily changed from month to month, and that the State WPA re-allotted the funds allocated to it from month to month among the seven districts in this State, the distribution again being based upon the labor being employed during such month as well as upon wage rates, allowances for materials, equipment and other costs attending the employment of such labor. This witness testified, further, that among the types of work acceptable to WPA, as of December, 1937, when the budget for the year 1938 was being prepared, was the painting and decorating of school buildings; that because of the well-known fact that most of its buildings were in dire need of painting and decorating, the board made the appropriation of $250,000 to avail itself, if possible, of the opportunity of accomplishing this painting and decorating at a minimum cost to it by obtaining from WPA free labor having an approximate value of $1,000,000. He testified further that had the Federal government failed to make appropriations for WPA after June 30, 1938, the board, conformably to its agreement with WPA, would have been required to complete projects then in progress at its own expense. Again, using the Hyde Park High School as an example, if the board had appropriated $5000 to paint and decorate this building on the assumption the WPA would contribute labor which would otherwise cost the board $20,000 and WPA, after commencing work on this project of an estimated cost of $25,000, later abandoned the project, there would be insufficient funds on hand under the $5000 appropriation to finish the work in compliance with the contract between the board and WPA. The impossibility or inadvisability of appropriating differently is also forcibly portrayed if, in the situation described, WPA decided that $30,000 instead of $25,000 should be spent in painting and decorating the Hyde Park High School, the board by its $5000 appropriation, would have denied itself WPA assistance on the improvement. Moreover, if WPA did not deem the Hyde Park High School project worthwhile the board would thus have been precluded from obtaining WPA assistance of a comparable amount on some other building.

Pursuant to the appropriation assailed, the board proposed and Federal authority was given for a project to paint and decorate school buildings under which the board guaranteed to spend $201,139 and the WPA agreed to contribute $804,043.65 in labor and materials. The manner in which this money was to be expended was broken down and itemized in detail, both as...

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21 cases
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    • November 20, 1952
    ...... People ex rel. Toman v. Baltimore & Ohio & Chicago Railroad Co., 381 Ill. 585, 46 N.E.2d 60. ... of the County Collector for judgment and order of sale against real estate returned delinquent for the nonpayment of general taxes for said year ... Page 754 . of the several items. People ex rel. Toman v. Estate of Otis, 376 Ill. 112, 33 N.E.2d 202. The appropriations were sufficiently ......
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    ......434, 59 N.E.2d 843;People ex rel. Toman v. Signode Steel Strapping Co., 380 Ill. 633, 44 N.E.2d 555. The object of ...People ex rel. Toman v. Estate of Otis, 376 Ill. 112, 33 N.E.2d 202;People ex rel. Nash v. Chicago & ......
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