City Attorney Admits Mistake, Says He'll Pay Back Property Tax Exemption

Mark Flessner collected tax exemptions on two properties, while state law stipulates homeowners are only entitled to take exemptions on one property

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Chicago’s City Attorney admits he made a mistake and says he will pay back money to the state of Illinois after collecting property tax exemptions on two properties, while state law only allows homeowners to collect one such exemption.

Attorney Mark Flessner says that his primary residence is a South Loop condo, but an NBC 5 Investigates report reveals that he has received two property tax breaks, including one for a residence in Naperville.

The breaks have saved him approximately $2,600 on his South Loop condo since 2015 and $1,600 on his Naperville house, but according to property tax experts, the law is clear: residents are only entitled to one homeowners exemption.

Earlier this year, the COO of the Chicago Department of Aviation was forced to resign after an NBC 5 Investigates report revealed that although he claimed residence in the city, he had been living in a Naperville home instead.

“You gotta live here, and if you don’t live here, you’re taking money from us,” Lightfoot said at the time. “If we find you, we’re gonna fire you.”

On Monday, Flessner admitted that he had made a mistake in claiming both exemptions, and that he would pay back approximately $2,500 to the state.

"Mr. Flessner has not filed to claim a homestead exemption at any property for 2019, the year in which he began his employment with the City of Chicago," the city said in a statement. "Prior to 2019, Mr. Flessner had mistakenly claimed a homestead exemption for both his Chicago and Naperville properties. Now that this mistake has been brought to his attention, he will be paying back the State the amount he received from the additional exemption, which he estimates to be approximately $2,500. Again, this took place prior to 2019, the year in which Mr. Flessner began his employment with the City of Chicago."

Flessner was appointed by Lightfoot in May, and has now registered to vote in Chicago. According to public records, he and his wife have donated over $12,000 to Lightfoot in the past 20 months.

Flessner also received a pass to use a private road, nicknamed “the Bat Cave” by some, that connects downtown and McCormick Place and avoids traffic jams. Flessner’s condo is just blocks from McCormick Place, and only select officials, including the mayor and the police superintendent, have access to the road.

Over the weekend, the mayor’s office announced that long-time law department spokesman Bill McCaffrey had been relieved of his duties, and he was escorted out of City Hall by Chicago police.

After the firing, questions have arisen over the circumstances surrounding his departure, and whether he was let go after raising ethical questions about the Lightfoot administration.

Lightfoot said that questions about McCaffrey’s “professionalism and judgment” led to his firing.

“I was provided last week some information regarding Bill McCaffrey that raised serious questions about his professionalism and his judgment,” Lightfoot said. “On the basis of what I was briefed on, there was support for the decision to terminate him with cause.”

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