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Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* Oops: County computer error further delays Cook tax bills

Cook County officials have averted a disastrous property tax error affecting 80,000 long-term homeowners, but the discovery could further delay the mailing of second installment property tax bills.

* Daley appoints CHA chief Peterson to CTA board

* Mayor Daley taps ex-campaign manager to lead CTA board

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* Gift cards for city workers?

Twenty employees of Chicago’s scandal-scarred Buildings Department were summoned to the commissioner’s office Tuesday to explain why their names appeared on a list of city employees who allegedly accepted $100 and $200 gift cards from a permit expediter-turned-government witness.

The gift cards were allegedly distributed in 2005 by Catherine Romasanta, a former expediter caught up in the federal investigation known as Operation Crooked Code who testified in the trial that culminated in last week’s conviction of former supervising building inspector Michael Reese.

* Weis: Help us get others

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- Posted by Mike Murray        

  1. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 10:45 am:

    {Cook County officials have averted a disastrous property tax error affecting 80,000 long-term homeowners, but the discovery could further delay the mailing of second installment property tax bills.}

    The initial disaster may have been averted but the added delay; which is not entirely atypical when dealing with an operation as efficient as that of the Cook County assessment and taxation process, may yet still prove disasterous in its downstream impacts.

    Those local governments and agencies that rely upon the property tax collections to substantially fund operations will be hurting. This is especially true for those that operate with limited reserves; under the naive assumption that the system will always work as designed.

    The need to build up and maintain operating reserves; due solely to the inefficiencies of Cook County government leads to higher taxes; which are already disasterous on their own.

    This latest aversion only adds to the ongoing basic disaster county-wide, and increases the impac of the disaster for those without sufficient operating reserves, or reserves which have already been spent down.

    A disaster delayed is not a disaster denied; it just gives those on the receiving end a longer look at the light of the freight train as it speeds down the tunnel in their direction.

  2. - Lou Grant - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    I hope someone with more knowledge of, and understanding of, the process can describe exactly what an expeditor is and how a person is designated as an expeditor. Is this a matter of law or custom?

  3. - Ken in Aurora - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:00 am:

    The Supremes are taking up [i]McDonald v. Chicago[/i] - woohoo!

  4. - Shore - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:24 am:

    for all the RINO attacks on Kirk, none of the msm has actually started asking him questions related to social and culture issues he’d face as a u.s. senator. This gun case today is step 1. He’s an F- rated candidate from the NRA who’s been endorsed by michael bloomberg in the past. It would be interesting for his base and supporters to know his thoughts on this case since he’s either going to flip flop or piss off his people.

  5. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:35 am:


    Rich and 4M are expeditors by custom; although I don’t think they are operating outside the law, so it could be by law as well.

    Just think of all the time they save you from having to dig in to your own “Morning Shorts”!

    This post is meant for amusement purposes only, and any reproduction is strictly prohibited. Any imaginary visions arisiing therefrom bearing resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Not recommended for children; and may be too intense for some viewers. Void where prohibited by law.

  6. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 8:03 pm:

    Re: Building Permits in City of Chicago.; “Permit Expeditors”.

    Ok, those were basically a group of players who got appointments and schedules all setup for all the permit review processes to eventually get a building permit.

    I got a wonderful primer course on the whole blessed mess from my federal GJ time. If you had a project of any size going on in Chicago, you had at least one, if not more than one “permit expeditor” working for you.

    If you have a project going that’s $50+k per day, you can’t afford even the loss of a single day. Stuff gets “lost” in the system, so you buy the services of your friendly “permit expeditor”, and miracles occur, and things get “unlost” quickly.

    You are starting the “permit intake” process, and your appointment is scheduled for 5 weeks from now. You turn it over to your friendly neighborhood “permit expeditor”, pay his/her $500++ per day fee, and guess what, 1-2 days later, you get a call (or your project manager, usually), and guess what, they’ve got a vacancy that just opened up, and can you make it, say in the next few days.

    And all is good with the world…. until those pesky fed’s came around….

  7. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 8:24 pm:

    Re: Cook County delays in tax bills.

    Oh, man was this was a beauty. Good example of what happens when nobody checks the numbers until right at the last minute. Btw, nice catch to what looks to be the checkers in the Treasurer’s office, but in all honesty, this should have been caught by the tax extenders in the County Clerk’s office. What happens when nobody sweats the details….

    The article’s not totally clear, but if I’m right, it’s all about the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption (SCAFHE).

    Here’s the link to the IL DOR page on exemptions:

    Here’s the ‘money’ portion:
    “The amount of the exemption benefit is determined each year based on (1) the property’s current EAV minus the frozen base year value (the property’s prior year’s EAV for which the applicant first qualifies for the exemption),…”

    Example 1: Current year assessed value is $25,000, SCAFHE ‘base assessed value’ is $19,000, SCAFHE exemption is $6,000 in assessed value (A - B = C). This is what is supposed to happen.

    Now, imagine that the SCAFHE ‘base value’ comes across as $0 by accident. Here’s what happens:

    Current year assessed value is $25,000, SCAFHE ‘base assessed value’ is $0, SCAFHE exemption is $25,000 in assessed value. Taxpayer is happy because they get a $.00 tax bill. Course, the Certificate of Error on this one will be a doozie (Hi, we made a small error. Your tax bill is going from $.00 to $1900.00). Ouch!

    But there’s a really serious problem with this situation (the reason for the delay): ALL the property tax rates were going to be wrong, in fact they were likely to be higher than they should be.

    Why? Because the taxable value (a/k/a EAV) for most tax districts is (incorrectly) artifically lower, so the resulting tax rates are higher than they should be (Levy/higher taxable EAV = lower tax rate; Levy/lower taxable EAV = higher tax rate).

    So, once they identified the error (right at the point of the Treasurer going out to start printing 2nd half adjusted tax bills), they realized that the County Clerk’s tax extenders had to re-do everything they had just done to get it all right.

    It’s like “Groundhog Day” all over again, except in this case, it’s about a thirty (30) day time period for the “Do Over”.

    Oh, well…..

  8. - Lou Grant - Thursday, Oct 1, 09 @ 8:01 am:

    So, from the two responses on the expeditor question, I surmise that there is general agreement that this position which is not licensed by or reported to the city in any way? Apparently anyone, even a person with say a criminal record of bribing public officials, not to say that ever happens in the City of Chicago, could be an expeditor. Further, any person, qualified or not, could claim to be an expeditor. There would be no way of really knowing that they are not qualified until it is too late?

    I think we could even surmise that an “unqualified” expeditor is merely a person who doesn’t know who to call to get an appointment? I guess that means I’m an expeditor too. You’re an expiditor. We’re all expeditors!

  9. - Lou Grant - Thursday, Oct 1, 09 @ 8:06 am:

    Hmmn… looking further into this mess, there is a process to become an expeditor:
    Apparently, I’ll need to let my cousin Vinny know that the job I had lined up for him when he got back from the “farm” won’t work out for him afterall. So sad.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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