Questionable Taxing Body

Marion Heights,  LLC. ( MHLLC ) is listed on numerous property tax bills as a taxing body alongside schools,  roads,  and the airport.

Clearly Marion Heights LLC.  is not a taxing body.   MHLLC is a private entity created by Douglas Bradley and Lynn Holmes etal.  Among other things ,  Doug is a CPA,  with established connections with the mayor, City Engineer,   Council,  County Treasure,  and tax assessor.  ( and to quote him,  “has lobbyist in Springfield”). Lynn has a “3 generation” well known construction business.  The City of Marion created  “Marion Heights TIF 1 ” in 2003 expressly for MHLLC. in addition to profiting from getting reimbursed with TIF funds for cost of land acquisitions and improvements ,  MHLLC also profits hugely from the subsequent  sale of that land.  In addition,  MHLLC has also been installed on those property tax bills as a taxing body to receive 99% of the tax monies for the life of the “TIF” after the sale.  How did that happen?  A phone call to Doug Bradley did not produce an explanation as to how MHLLC,  a private entity,  was able to get installed on  county property tax bills as the recipient of those property taxes.  The Williamson County Commissioners refused to provide satisfactory answers,  and showed no inclination to call for a state or federal investigation,  stating that they see no wrongdoing here. ( view recorded public meetings )

Of these,  15 property tax bills alone ( listing MHLLC as a taxing body )  raked in over one million property tax dollars just in 2012.  MHLLC is allocated 99% of the total tax collected.  We have copies of 10 years of tax bills for over 1200 pieces of property in affluent west Marion.  MHLLC has been listed as a taxing body on tax bills since 2003.  Literally millions of property tax dollars appear to have been hijacked over the recent past decade to MHLLC.

Williamson County Treasurer checks have been written directly to Marion Heights,  LLC.  out of the “taxing body”  county bank account ending in #5639.  We have copies of those checks and copies of the Williamson County “taxing district”  check disbursement registers showing the same for 7 years.  We have copies of the Williamson County bank statements verifying the same.   Marion Heights,  LLC. received at least 4 checks a years from this county account.  There are irregularities.  Again,  Marion Heights,LLC.  is not a TIF district,  yet the Williamson County Director writes checks directly to them,  bypassing the normal TIF channels.  As evidence shows,  when a county treasure “new girl”   wrote the MHLLC check to the City of Marion instead, when using TIF checks,  someone in the treasure’s office “corrected”  it back when she left,  indicating it was not merely a typo.  Marion’s other TIF districts receive separate county checks made out to the City of Marion,  with specific TIF name as a line item.

The Williamson County TIF checks written to the City of Marion TIF districts are not directly deposited into the US BANK ILLINOIS FUNDS “TIF account”  set up for the TIF funds by the City of Marion.  City Treasure Steve Hale admitted that,  but would not explain the circuitous route of the TIF monies take before making it into that account.  Again,  this “accounting practice”  raises serious questions including its legality in the handling of TIF monies. We have 7 years of the City of Marion’s US BANK ILLINOIS FUND ( TIF ) account.  It is a money market account,  with very few paper checks written into or out of it ( a few huge checks to the City of Marion Accounts Payable ).  City of Marion Treasure Steve Hale stated that the US BANK ILLINOIS FUNDS account was set up just for the TIF district funds,  and yet it offers zero transparency to the actual trail of TIF dollars. The City of Marion is refusing to provide e-mail copies of the city’s bank account ending in #5898, which would provide information as to where the money was actually going.

The City of Marion seems to use City Ordinances as a tool to validate whatever decisions they decide to make regarding the TIF districts and the TIF funds  in the closed door “executive sessions”  meetings of the city council.  Changes are numerous and frequent and irregular,  as evidenced by the Williamson County file copies we have. ( it’s ok if they say it’s ok )  the deals made with developers in these ordinances and agreements raise serious questions as well. Broad interpretation of “cost eligible” expenses is allowed,  including land acquisitions.

Huge irregularities exist both in the method of taxation and the fair cash value assessments made by the Williamson County Tax Assessor with regard to TIF developer’s properties in stark contrast to adjoining parcels owned by others. The volume of serious irregularities,  and repeated patterns of the same,  raise  enormous  questions as to propriety of the cooperation and involvement by and between municipal offices and officials and the developers in the “good ol’ boys club” style. ( Civil rights issues raised deserve a book of their own here ).  There is neither time nor space here to list all the irregularities.  We have not even had time for complete review of all the tax records we have collected to date . The seriously questionable irregularities contained in the following  pages of this expository stem from only a small portion of those records.

The lack of accountability and transparency,  arrogant dismissal of inquiries,  and open contempt for the right of the tax payers displayed by city and county officials is outstanding.  We  taxpayers have been defrauded of our expectations for fair and honest services.  We are seriously alarmed at the lack of standard secure accounting controls with the handling of TIF property tax dollars by municipal officials.