Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.
   
     
     
     



Slow refund checks for Water Tower residents—including the county treasurer—lead to proposed fee
A Cook County committee took the first step toward instituting a fee for law firms and others that win property tax appeals and don't promptly turn over refund checks to their clients, after Treasurer Maria Pappas says residents in her condo building grilled her about where their checks were.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business
by A.D. Quig

A Cook County committee took the first step today toward instituting a fee for law firms and others that win property tax appeals and don't promptly turn over refund checks, after Treasurer Maria Pappas says residents in her condo building grilled her about where their checks were.

A new $30 fee proposed by Pappas’ office would serve as a “deterrent,” her spokesman said, for agents, firms and property managers. It won approval from the county's Finance Committee and faces a full board vote tomorrow.

Under the ordinance, third parties that fail to cash refund checks before a 90-day expiration date on the check would have to pay $30 for each new check requested.

“I regret that this occurred in the building where I live,” Pappas said, later adding that she received a late check. “I go home at night, get in the elevator and have people ask me where their checks are.”

After a fellow Water Tower resident asked about the status of their property tax refund checks, Pappas said, her office found that some refund recovery agents were submitting a high number of requests for cancellation or reissuance of refund checks that were never cashed or deposited.

Between 2017 and 2019, the office says, more than 19,000 refund checks issued to third parties remained uncashed after 90 days. Nearly 5,000 checks remain uncashed to this day, the office says.

Pappas says her office mailed close to 1,000 refund checks in January 2018 for condos at Water Tower Place at 180 E. Pearson St., where Pappas lives. The checks, totaling $444,500, were for appeals for tax years 2010-13. That adds up to an average of about $500 per check.

The treasurer’s office said the law firm that handled the building’s appeals—Gordon & Pikarski—didn’t deliver refund checks to the building’s property management company, Lieberman Condominium & Property Management Services, until that August. In turn, the management company didn’t distribute those refund checks to condo owners until December 2018, roughly a year later.

Calls to Lieberman and the law firm were not immediately returned.

“It adds a lot of confusion with taxpayers in general saying, ‘Hey, I thought my check was mailed,’” Bill Kouruklis, Pappas’ chief of staff, told commissioners.

“The belief is we’ll train people, with the $30 fee, to cash these checks when it’s first issued,” said Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, instead of tossing checks “in a drawer.”

Terry Nader, a property tax lawyer with Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, said it would be uncommon for his office to hold on to refund checks for any reason. “The powerful motivation is that’s how we get paid. It’s in our own interest to see that the money is distributed promptly, both for the benefit of the taxpayer and so we are compensated for our work.”

The only times he would ask the treasurer to reissue a check is when one might’ve been lost in the mail or if a mistake was made, but those are rare. “Out of probably several hundred that we receive per year, I could count them on one hand,” he said, describing the new fee as a poor deterrent. He says his firm usually gets refunds to clients within a month.

Commissioners also gave initial approval to a $1 increase to processing fees at the treasurer for mortgage lenders. The new rate would be $2 per PIN and would help the treasurer’s office pay for upgrades to its online property tax portal.

The committee also gave the green light to a new property tax abatement for families of police, fire, and soldiers who die in the line of duty.

A similar ordinance is working its way through the Chicago City Council—if both pass through the Cook County Board and City Council, qualifying families would be exempt from taxes levied by Cook County and the city.

Joe Ahern, CEO of the 100 Club, which supports sworn federal, state, county and local first responders stationed in Cook, Lake and McHenry counties, said his organization has worked with close to 250 families in Cook County that might qualify.

“Oftentimes the hero who was lost was the sole breadwinner,” Ahern said, adding that the abatement “could be incredibly helpful” to families.

The fiscal impact would be minimal, county officials say.

The state already offers a total property tax exemption for surviving spouses of veterans killed in the line of duty Jan. 1, 2015, or after.



Recent Headlines

Cook County forest preserve picnic, camping permits for 2020 season to go on sale Nov. 15
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Chicago’s public defender plans to ask Illinois Supreme Court to reverse decision that permits holding preteens in custody despite county ordinance
Monday, November 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Clerk Yarbrough touts ‘method to her madness,’ says hiring criticism ‘is purely personal’
Saturday, November 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Nonprofit hospitals forced to defend hundreds of millions in property tax breaks
Friday, November 08, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Land Bank must serve neighborhoods, not City Hall insiders
Friday, November 08, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

After judge’s dismissal, Skokie appeals federal lawsuit over Evanston water rates
Friday, November 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

2 teens in DCFS care were shackled and handcuffed during drive from a youth shelter: ‘Totally unacceptable,’ agency says
Friday, November 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

The lifelong damage we do in Cook County when we jail kids as young as 10
Thursday, November 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Unfair assessments lawsuit dismissed after assessor makes changes — full reform called a ‘years-long process’
Thursday, November 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Editorial: Watch out, Cook County land bank. The public could foreclose — on you.
Thursday, November 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Niles raises property tax about $21 per average household
Wednesday, November 06, 2019
Pioneer Press

Nov. 15 is Opening Day for Forest Preserves of Cook County Picnic and Special Event Permit Sales, 2020 Camping Reservations
Wednesday, November 06, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

$8M grant program aims to expand Cook County animal shelter space
Tuesday, November 05, 2019
ABC EyeWitness News

Even as Illinois court permits detaining pre-teens, across U.S. fewer youth being held
Monday, November 04, 2019
Injustice Watch

Cook County OK’d insider deal for Ald. Carrie Austin’s top aide
Monday, November 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A progressive measure intended to keep preteens out of Cook County jails was effectively struck down by an appellate court
Monday, November 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Health CEO Calls on Other Hospitals to Increase Charity Care
Friday, November 01, 2019
WTTW News

Labrador retriever sworn in at Cook County state’s attorney’s office. Yes, really.
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County sheriff wants chief judge to take over electronic monitoring of suspects, citing the records of those released
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Illinois appellate court rejects ordinance banning detention of 10-12 year olds
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Injustice Watch

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP