Property tax refund for AT&T costs District 220 $1.1 million

The office of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx settled 5,208 property-tax appeals during her first 11 months in office, resulting in refunds to businesses totaling more than $79.5 million, with the largest single settlement costing Barrington Area Unit District 220 $1.1 million in property tax revenue this year, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The break for AT&T Corp. related to refunds it sought for its Hoffman Estates office complex, which it has largely vacated in recent years. AT&T was represented by the law firm owned by powerful Chicago alderman Edward Burke, who held a fundraiser for Foxx at his home shortly before her election and contributed $10,000 to her campaign.

Foxx had no direct role in settling the lawsuits, her spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said. The office wouldn't say how the staff decides to settle cases, many of which involve commercial property owners represented by lawyers including Burke, House Speaker Michael Madigan and former Cook County Assessor Thomas Tully, all Democrats who supported Foxx's successful campaign.

Neither AT&T nor Burke responded to questions about the refund.

Burke's firm sought a refund of $16 million on three years of taxes and last Aug. 25, Foxx's staff reached a settlement for nearly $2 million in refunds, plus $72,663 in interest.

The settlement came as a shock to District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris, who said his district will bear the biggest brunt of the refunds to AT&T by tapping into its rainy-day fund. "We weren't even made aware of this until the fall, after the case was settled," Harris said.

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