Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has gone to court to recover nearly $6.6 million in tax revenues that she says was paid in error to Country Club Hills, which allegedly has refused to return the money and even offered its residents a tax rebate.
The south suburban city has acknowledged the error and offered to repay the
money over five years, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday, but Pappas has
demanded full payment.
Country Club Hills officials apparently have ignored the demand and, in
April, approved a partial rebate to property owners.
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court by State's Attorney Anita
Alvarez, names Country Club Hills, Mayor Dwight Welch and city Treasurer Rhonda
Williams as defendants. Welch and Williams could not be reached for comment
The lawsuit stems from the property taxes Country Club Hills residents paid
last year. The county treasurer collects the taxes and then distributes the
money to municipalities, school districts and other taxing agencies. According
to the lawsuit, when county officials learned that Country Club Hills had
received nearly $6.6 million in revenues it did not deserve, Pappas' office
notified city officials and demanded repayment.
When Pappas received no response, she notified the city again in April and
demanded repayment within 30 days. Lawyers for the treasurer's office then met
with representatives from Country Club Hills, and in correspondence in May, the
city acknowledged it received too much money.
Country Club Hills officials have said they took out a loan in late 2010
based on incoming 2011 taxes. But when the county went to transfer the $6.6
million in taxes to the city, the treasurer apparently paid the bank holding the
loan and the city, they said.
City officials argued that it was the bank that was paid twice, not the city,
so the county should go after the bank. They have noted that the county
continues to transfer property tax money to the city.