Analysis: Orland Park mayor wrongfully received property tax breaks on multiple homes
Mayor Dan McLaughlin has simultaneously received homeowner exemptions on his Orland Park home and his Streeterville condominium, saving himself thousands in property taxes, but violating Illinois state law.
That’s according to an analysis of Cook County property records by Local Government Information Services (LGIS), which publishes South Cook News.
From at least 2007 to 2015, public records show McLaughlin received the homeowner property tax exemption on both his primary residence at 14525 Oakley Ave. in Orland Park and his condominium in the 33 story Michigan Terrace high-rise, 535 N. Michigan Avenue, on the Magnificent Mile.
In 2014 and 2015, the exemption saved him $1,424 on his Orland Park home and an additional $957 on his condominium.
McLaughlin, who has a full-time job running a Chicago labor union, is already under fire for receiving a salary increase from $40,000 to $150,000 last year. If he wins re-election, the increase would effectively spike his taxpayer-funded pension, which is based on one’s last public salary.
Keith Pekau, a small business owner and former member of the U.S. Air Force, is challenging McLaughlin, who is seeking his seventh term as mayor of Orland Park. Election day is Apr. 4.
McLaughlin owns the Streeterville condominium with his wife and daughter, which is currently listed for rent on Zillow.com for $1,550 per month. He bought the property for $160,000 in July 2003, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
The Illinois State Property Tax Code provides that a homestead exemption is available “for residential property that is occupied by its owner or owners as his or their principal dwelling place.”
The Cook County Assessor’s office has started to aggressively pursue property tax cheaters, even starting an investigative fraud unit in 2013 and creating a “whistleblower” web site where people can anonymously turn in their neighbors.
"When someone gets an undeserved break on taxes, you pay more than fair share," the site says. "If you know that a property is improperly receiving an exemption, tell us!"
McLaughlin’s home in Orland Park, valued at $381,000 according to the Cook County Assessor, is owned through a trust. He and his wife, Patricia, bought the home for $75,000 in June 1989. They have applied for a homestead exemption on the property since at least 1997, country records show.