* The Sun-Times takes a look at House Speaker Michael Madigan’s law firm’s property tax work for an offshoot of Mesirow Financial Services, which put up a skyscraper, then sold it…
After appealing to Houlihan and the Cook County Board of Review, Madigan got the building’s market value pegged at $31.3 million. That saved Stein’s company $1.7 million in property taxes for 2010.
On Dec. 15, 2010, Stein’s company sold the building to Tishman Speyer for $385.4 million — a deal that Madigan’s firm says wiped out the equity that Mesirow and Jenner had in the skyscraper.
For each of the past four years, Madigan has filed challenges of the building’s estimated market value with Berrios, who succeeded Houlihan as county assessor in 2010.
Every year, Berrios has said the building is worth at least $330 million. And every year Madigan’s firm has gotten Berrios to slash that estimate, resulting in tax breaks that have averaged $5 million a year, county records show. Tishman Speyer passes along the tax bills to its tenants, so any cut benefits them.
The skyscraper “had essentially no rental income in 2009 and reduced rental income in subsequent years,” says Madigan’s partner, attorney Bud Getzendanner, who successfully argued for the cuts. […]
Getzendanner won’t say how much the firm has been paid for winning the cuts in property assessment that lowered the building’s taxes. Madigan told the Chicago Tribune four years ago that his firm charges clients an annual fee rather than take a percentage of the tax cuts.
Earlier this year, Getzendanner argued the building was worth no more than $260 million, though its net income hit $36.7 million last year, the highest since tenants first moved in. He noted that 10 percent of the building remained vacant.
Once again, Madigan’s firm got Berrios to cut the building’s estimated value, this time by 20 percent, then persuaded the Board of Review to lower it by another 2 percent.
At first blush, it looks like a fetcher game. The Assessor repeatedly over-estimates and then MJM swoops in to save the day.
But that probably can’t be because Madigan doesn’t take a cut of the tax reduction. He charges by the year.
* There have been tons of stories done on Madigan’s property tax business. I’m told the feds went through his books several years ago. They came up empty. Former GOP Rep. Maureen Murphy, an avowed Madigan enemy in the House, ran for the Board of Review back in the day with the specific goal of going after Madigan. Nothing ever materialized.