Check's in the mail for Brookfield SSA #4 homeowners

Refunds for double tax expected this week

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By BOB UPHUES

Property owners in Brookfield's Special Service Area #4--the check's in the mail.

 

Special Service Area 4

Brookfield village trustees last night voted unanimously, with one abstention, to create an ordinance allowing the village manager to issue refund checks to taxpayers in SSA #4 who were overcharged on their most recent property tax bill. Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said that letters and checks would be mailed starting Monday, and that most property owners should have the refunds, most for several hundred dollars, in hand next week.

The vote was taken at a special meeting of the village board Thursday night. Trustee Alan Dorobiala, who lives in SSA #4, recused himself from voting on the issue.

"The checks are already cut, signed stamped and ready to go," Ginex said at last night's meeting.

Enclosed with the letter and check will be a self-addressed stamped envelope and a tax reimbursement form, which property owners are required to sign, date and return to village hall.

Village officials have been trying to sort out the cause of the tax snafu and identify just how much taxpayers were overcharged since the problem first came to light in early August. Working with the Cook County Clerk's Office, village officials determined that the county double charged property owners in SSA #4 for debt service on street improvement bonds originally issued in 1993.

In 2004, the village board voted to refinance the 1993 bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates and, subsequently, sent a certificate of tax reduction concerning the refinanced bonds to the county in 2005. Although the 1993 bonds no longer existed due to that refinancing, the county not only levied the tax amount for the 2004 bonds, but also for the 1993 bonds.

"The error that occurred is that the clerk inadvertently assumed a tax levy needed to be in place for the 1993 bonds," said Village Attorney Richard Ramello. "So the levy [on the 2005 tax bill] is for the 1993 and 2004 bonds. The 1993 levy is the erroneous one."

In total, property owners were overcharged by $174,881.70. That amount will be divided up on a pro-rata basis and refunded to homeowners.

The money for the refunds will come directly from the village's general operating fund, which will be reimbursed as the tax receipts are collected by the county and paid back to Brookfield. Ginex said he is confident the source of the error has been identified and that the snafu should not happen again next year.

SSA #4 is one of six Special Service Areas created during the 1990s on the south end of Brookfield for the construction of streets and storm sewers. SSA #4, located in the southwest corner of the village, is the largest of the SSAs, containing some 450 taxable parcels of land, or roughly 250 households.

Anyone with questions about the tax refunds is asked to call the village manager's office at 485-7344.

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