Mandamus to Force County Collector to Make Assessments of Delinquent Property and Hold Special Sales

In People ex rel. Rossiter v. Wagemann, 293 Ill. App. 37, 12 N.E.2d 40 (1937), the court considered the question of whether the predecessor to section 21-225 required the collector to conduct special sales. The portion of this section that was at issue provides that when the county collector makes assessments of property and finds that their value is less than that of the delinquent taxes, he or she is to sell the property and apply the proceeds to the delinquency. 35 ILCS 200/21-225 (West 1996). The plaintiffs in Wagemann sought mandamus to force the collector to make assessments of delinquent property and hold special sales where appropriate. The circuit court denied mandamus, and the appeals court affirmed, holding that the special sale was only one method by which taxing bodies could collect delinquent taxes and that the officer had the discretion to pursue some other remedy if in the judgment of the officer it was a better method of collection. Wagemann, 293 Ill. App. at 40, 12 N.E.2d at 42. The court noted: "'Where an officer, in the exercise of a discretionary power, has considered and determined what his course of action is to be, he has exercised his discretion, and his action is not subject to review or control by mandamus; and so careful are the courts of encroaching in any manner upon the discretionary powers of public officials, that if any reasonable doubt exists as to the question of discretion or want of discretion, they will hesitate to interfere, preferring rather to extend the benefit of the doubt in favor of the officer," Wagemann, 293 Ill. App. at 39-40, 12 N.E.2d at 41, quoting MacGregor v. Miller, 324 Ill. 113, 118, 154 N.E. 707, 710 (1926).