Ald. Ed Burke's (14th) law firm, Klafter & Burke, has reportedly
helped city property owners gain property-tax refunds worth a total of
$18.1 million since 2003, according to a recent investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times.
property-tax refunds have amounted to more than $3.6 million in lost
revenue for the city, the Sun-Times' Tim Novak reports. The city is out 20
cents for every refunded property-tax dollar.
Klafter & Burke, which specializes in property-tax cases,
has 59 clients that do some sort of work for the city of Chicago or its
various agencies. Some of Burke's big-name clients include AT&T,
Commonwealth Edison and Walgreens. The newspaper cited Burke as "Chicago's
most-conflicted alderman" due to all the times he's had to abstain from
voting on city matters connected to his clients.
Additionally, Klafter & Burke also helped suburban Cook County property owners obtain $10.9 million in refunds since 2003, the newspaper found. One Klafter
& Burke client told the newspaper that the firm reportedly receives
30 percent of their clients' tax-saving victories.
The city of
Chicago's law department has filed suit against Burke's cases in court
only one time over the last three years, the investigation's findings showed.
to city officials, the law department simply doesn't have the manpower
to challenge all the lawsuits from politically-connected law firms
seeking property-tax refunds for their clients.
law department typically centers its attention around lawsuits seeking
the largest amount in tax savings, which are usually not the suits filed
on behalf of Burke's clients, city officials said.
decision to intervene is based upon the value of the property and the
amount of reduction being sought,” the city's Law Department spokesman
Roderick Drew told the newspaper. “The name of the law firm representing
the taxpayer has nothing to do with the decision to intervene.”
In addition to Klafter & Burke, a law firm led by House Speaker Michael Madigan has also filed Chicago property-tax refund lawsuits. Overall, lawsuits looking to win tax savings for some 31,000 Chicago parcels have been filed since 2003, the newspaper reported.