DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
The recent exposure to businesses operating on campus at COD led to yet another batch of FOIA requests being sent out. The reason behind those FOIA's is explained in part in our last COD Tax Cheat article. (Click here for Tax Cheat Article)
One of those FOIA's was to the Milton Township assessor Chris E. LeVan and I have to say, COD should take lessons from this assessor on many fronts! Mr. LeVan not only responded to the FOIA request immediately, he provided information above and beyond a simple request for records.
When a public body takes the path of openness and ensures the public is informed, it establishes a trust, which at this point there is none with COD and their responses to FOIA.
So what is going on with the businesses operating on campus and not paying property tax? The assessor's response to our FOIA spells it out VERY WELL!
"Through your investigation our office became aware of the U.S. Bank and now other businesses operating within the COD campus. For that we thank you. We will issue a Certificate of Error for the U.S. Bank for tax year 2014, sadly per the law we can only go back one year. We have been investigating the Waterleaf, along with the hotel to determine if both properties should be placed on the tax rolls. We are looking at all the other properties on the COD campus to ensure each unit is added to the tax rolls and pays their fair share of taxes" (Click here for the full e-mail exchange with the Assessor)
The assessor could have responded to that FOIA with a simple, "there are no records responsive to your request". That is a typical response out of COD even though we KNOW they have the records we are asking for. This assessor went the extra mile and actually provided direction as to where to get the requested files, who is responsible, and explained what is being done to fix the problem, which is not an obligation under FOIA.
His actions should be an example of how things should work in our Government. He deserves overwhelming praise for his response and COD should take notice of how easy it is to interact with the public.
A question the citizens of DuPage County should be asking there Supervisor of Assessments, how many businesses in the county are operating on leased space in a tax exempt government building? Typically we find these things happening at airports (hanger space), government housing (barber shops and beauty salons), and courthouses & jails (ATM machines) just to name a few.
In closing, Thank You to the Milton Township Assessor for going the extra mile for the people in this community!