Judge Declares River Forest Contract with Keystone Void
JUDGE DECLARES RIVER FOREST CONTRACT WITH KEYSTONE VOID
Rules in Keystone Montessori School's Favor
RIVER FOREST, IL – Tuesday, April 2 – Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sanjay Tailor granted Keystone Montessori School’s motion for summary judgement, declaring that the Village of River Forest has been violating public policy by enforcing an agreement that prevents the school from claiming a property tax exemption.
Vicki Shea, the director of Keystone said, “Today's court ruling was a long-awaited and wonderful validation of Keystone's real estate tax exemption status. We are a school and, as any school, we contribute to the community's well-being by re-enforcing the importance of education by providing a diversity of educational approaches for local residents.”
“Now the Circuit Court has ruled that Keystone’s real estate tax exemption is a ‘quintessential public policy right’ despite the ‘always pay taxes’ imposition by River Forest as a condition to operating a school at 7401 W. North Avenue. The Department of Revenue, and now the Court, have both rejected the Village’s shallow rationales,” said John Mauck, attorney at Mauck & Baker, the firm that is representing Keystone.
In early December, the Department of Revenue granted Keystone with a full real estate exemption for 2017. However, the Village has since appealed that decision.
Although Illinois law clearly states that schools are exempt from property taxes, the Village of River Forest has required Keystone to pay more than $1.1 million in taxes over the last 20 years. Out of four private nonprofit schools in the Village of River Forest, Keystone was the only one without a property tax exemption.