CBS (CHICAGO) – Marty Flaska moved his manufacturing business from Illinois to Indiana in 2015.
He left, in part, because he believes Illinois is broken.
Flaska hasn’t been shy about sharing that belief with local media, and others, including the right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute, a critic of Democrats like Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.
Now, Flaska tells 2 Investigator Brad Edwards he’s paying — actually paying —for speaking out.
“We left, we spoke,” says Flaska, CEO Of Hoist Liftruck, an industrial forklift manufacturer now based in East Chicago, Ind. “And my next (Cook County) tax bill was three times what it’s supposed to be.”
Flaska had located in southwest suburban Bedford Park in 1998. Because he rehabbed an abandoned industrial site, he received what’s known as a 6b property tax incentive from the assessor’s office. The incentive’s aim is to encourage industrial development throughout the county.
Flaska says after he spoke out in 2015 that incentive disappeared, causing his property tax bill to increase by $258,000.
Hoist still owns the Bedford Park property and operates other industrial businesses there.
“In your most damning assessment, what is this?” Edwards asks.
“Retaliation,” Flaska says.
Berrios declined an on-camera interview. A spokesperson says the assessor can’t “respond to every Tom-Dick-and-Harry flamethrower who makes an unfounded off-the-wall accusation.”
The office denies any political motivation.
“The facts show that this matter was handled properly, according to policy. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous and reckless. No one working on this file has even heard of Mr. Flaska,” the spokesperson says in a statement.
He adds Hoist missed an initial deadline for filing an incentive-related affidavit. The company eventually submitted the proper paperwork, which for unknown reasons “was not promptly forwarded to the correct person for processing,” the assessor’s representative says.
Flaska doesn’t buy it. Hoist applied for a refund but about a year later still has not received its money.