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Aldermen Back Property Tax Break For Spouses Of Fallen Police Officers, Firefighters, Paramedics

by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Calling it "just a small token of appreciation," Chicago aldermen on Thursday gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would provide a property tax break to the spouses of police officers, firefighters, and paramedics who die in the line of duty.

The measure sponsored by Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) would allow those spouses to apply for a waiver of the city's portion of their property tax bill for as long as they remain unmarried, and stay in the home where they lived with their wife or husband.

The Illinois legislature authorized the tax breaks in a 2012 state law that allows local and county governments to offer a tax abatement to the families of fallen first responders.

The tax exemption would apply only to Chicago's share of property tax bills, which usually make up 20% to 25% of the overall amount due.

Thompson said currently eight families qualify for the break, which will begin with 2019 property tax bills coming due next year. The alderman estimated the cost to the city would be $10,000 to $15,000 a year.

"This is just a small token of appreciation," the alderman said.

The eligible families include those of:

  • CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was killed by a gunman outside the Thompson Center last year;
  • CFD Capt. Herbie Johnson, who was killed by a "flashover" of flames while fighting a fire in Gage Park in 2012;
  • CPD Officer Eduardo Marmolejo and CPD Officer Conrad Gary, who were killed when they were struck by a train while responding to a call of shots fired last year;
  • CPD Officer Samuel Jimenez, who was killed while responding to a shooting at Mercy Hospital last year;
  • CPD Officer Michael Flisk, who was shot and killed while investigating a crime scene in 2010;
  • Firefighter Corey Ankum, who died when the roof and wall of a burning abandoned building fell on him in 2010;
  • and Firefighter Daniel Capuano, who died after falling down an open and unmarked elevator shaft while battling a warehouse fire in 2015.

The Cook County Board of Review would process the family's applications for the tax breaks, according to Commissioner Michael Cabonargi.

He said the property tax exemption being offered "honors our fallen heroes" and provides "substantial relief to their families."

The measure now goes to the full City Council for a vote next week.

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