Village gives $4.2 million to Norridge Marketplace

Norridge taxpayers forking over $4.2 million in “economic incentive” payments to Norridge Marketplace owners

If you’re ever at the Norridge Marketplace (also known as the show property) at Harlem and Agatite, take a moment to look around you and say to yourself “my tax money is paying for that”. Because… guess what – it is.

Documents obtained from the Village of Norridge show Village trustees in April 2018 rubber stamped now-former Norridge Mayor James Chmura’s agreement to transfer $4.2 million dollars in tax money over a multi-year period, if certain sales conditions are met.

Norridge Marketplace… funded with your tax money

The first payment of nearly $136,000 was made in November 2018… at the same time the Village government was approving a 35% property tax levy increase payable in 2019.

The second of $144,000 was made in May of this year. 

Based on the text of the agreement, we should see another similar-sized payment being made to the Norridge Marketplace from the Village this month, as the Village government plans to raise it’s property tax levy another 32% payable in 2020.

Public tax for private corporate use

Back in 2014, the Village government slapped a 9% “amusement” tax on sales at the show property, which are normally not taxed since it is considered a service business, except for food and drink.

If the Village government expected at least $4.2 million in sales tax receipts from the amusement tax, it could have used this money to make police pension payments.

But instead of taking steps to reduce the property tax burden on residents… Norridge raised the property tax levy nearly 70% in two years.

The documents show the agreement to pay the money was made between the Village and the corporate entity “Hamhic LLC”.

Hamhic LLC operates under the name “Norridge Marketplace”, and is a joint venture between Hamilton Partners (“Ham”) and Michael Marchese’s Harlem Irving Companies (“hic”).

Marchese is the owner of the Harlem Irving Plaza, and has been a Norridge Improvement Party campaign contributor.

The agreement, and the authority to levy the tax, was made under the Village’s “Home Rule” authority.

The Village purchased a piece of the show property, planning on using it to build a new police station on it.

The Village has since backtracked on that decision, putting the property up for sale, with potential buyer Net 3 Real Estate offering $600,000.

Norridge has since borrowed $1.5 million to buy part of the Divine Savior property.

Pensions not property funded, but corporate welfare still going

This is the third time the Village has signed an agreement with one of Marchese’s companies to divert millions of public dollars in corporate welfare to his profitable company.

In the 2000s the Village of Norridge government transferred millions to Marchese’s Harlem Irving companies to build the Target store.

In 2012 the Village signed another agreement that would pay Marchese $1.5 million for the X-Sport and then-Sports Authority buildout.

The Village is still paying for the X-Sport construction, having recently made a $120,000 payment in April to Marchese subsidiary “Forest Harlem Properties”.

Chmura commented last year to the Norridge-Harwood Heights News publication that sales taxes weren’t enough to make the police pension payments.

But, dear neighbors, taxpayers, and pension fund retirees, you’ll be happy to know – there’s always enough of our money in the Village treasury to further enrich Michael Marchese.

Village to hold 32% property tax hike hearing

Village board to hold hearing that will see municipal property tax levy rise another 32%

Notice at Village hall of 32% tax hike

The Village of Norridge has been on a tax spike frenzy the past two years, raising sales taxes and gasoline taxes in the past year.

On top of that, they borrowed $1.5 million to finance their purchase of the Divine Saviour property, and have begun to pay the interest on the loan.

And now, for the second time in two years, they are raising the property tax levy another 32%, on top of the 35% last year.

That’s nearly a 70% increase in just two years.

No referendums have appeared on the ballot asking voters to support or oppose the tax increases; the Village instead relied on its “Home Rule” authority to impose the taxes without voter approval.

The hearing on the latest property tax increase will take place Wednesday, November 13th 6:00PM at the Norridge Village Hall.

Patronage employment agency

Despite claiming the additional taxes are only going to fund the “police pension“, the Village of Norridge’s budget continues to be weighed heavily down by its massive patronage army.

Patronage employees are hired based on loyalty to the Norridge Improvement Party, rather than jobs that needed to be filled.

Such individuals exist to shake down Norridge residents for votes every two years, or for money via a smorgasbord of fees and penalties; most penalties, too doubled in 2018.

In addition, the Village continues to pay employees well beyond competitive wages, driving up their pensionable salary and therefore, increasing the cost of pension benefits.

With such levels of unnecessary spending, it is “unable” to make the police pension payments from general fund revenues, even in part.

In 2009, the Village of Norridge was putting over a half a million dollars from general revenues into the pension fund.

The general fund includes tax money such as Illinois income and sales tax sharing, replacement taxes, use taxes, home rule sales taxes, plus fees and penalties.

In 2019, the amount of money the Village budgeted from general revenues to pensions… was zero.

Relief coming from state mandates on pensions?

The State of Illinois has exacerbated the issue by requiring Villages to fully pre-fund these unsustainable pensions by the 2040s.

Illinois Democrats are currently looking at ways to consolidate local pension funds to achieve less overhead and higher returns.

Illinois Democratic governor Prizker floated an idea to string out the 2040 deadline to give pensions a chance to catch up, but backed off after resistance from other Democrats.

Regardless of what the state does… if history is any indication, the Village of Norridge under the Norridge Improvement Party will continue to blow taxpayer money on nonessential spending, while sticking it to property owners.

There were hopes interim mayor Daniel Tannhauser would take a different approach to the tax and spend policies of his predecessor, James Chmura.

However, Tannhauser, a Democrat backed by Robert Martwick and the Chicago 38th ward Democratic organization, has not given any indication he intends to take any meaningful action to rein in wasteful spending at the Village.

Perhaps it’s because he needs the taxpayer-funded NIP patronage army to go door to door propping up his regime against a rumored third challenge in 2021 by Tom Benigno.

So in other words… it’s business as usual… and we all get the “honor” of paying more… to bankroll the privileges of a select few.

Norridge term limits

Volunteers and I have begun seeking Norridge registered voters willing to sign “term limit” petitions, placing two binding referendums on the March 2020 primary ballot.

Norridge Village term limits

One petition is regarding the mayor’s office, limiting the mayor to two consecutive full terms. The other petition is regarding the trustee office, limiting trustees to three consecutive full terms.

If passed they would apply to Norridge officials elected in the 2021 election and going forward.

If you would like to sign, please let us know. You can contact me via E-mail at achudzik906 at gmail dot com, or by phone at 708-456-5915. You can also message us at the  Norridge Term Limits Facebook page.

Please let your neighbors know.

I hope to see you soon!


Adam Chudzik

Exclusive Norridge trustee appointment fuels calls for nonpartisan elections

Only Norridge Improvement Party candidate was considered for Norridge Village Trustee appointment

The Village of Norridge board approved the appointment of Andy Ronstadt for the trustee vacancy caused by Daniel Tannhauser’s resignation last month.

Ranstadt is appointed to the Norridge Village board

Except – nobody else was allowed to apply for the position.

The Village of Norridge did not accept applications to be considered from members of the general public.

Tannhauser’s official resignation was timed and structured such that only NIP trustees were allowed to submit a candidate.

Ronstadt had been a Norridge Improvement Party loyalist for many years, often seen stumping for candidates, and harassing voters outside polling places as they came in to vote.

The Norridge Improvement Party has gone to great lengths to ensure its members exclusively occupy all Village seats.

The NIP turned back challenges by Tom Benigno in 2013 and 2017, after anonymous mailings, under fictitious names such as “Citizens for a Better Norridge” and “Concerned Citizens Committee”, made unsubstantiated allegations against Benigno and, in 2017, his slate of candidates.

Earlier this year, NIP operatives Melissa Poulos and Richard Massaro filed objections to the petitions of two independents – Joe Rizzi and Gus Rapatas – that ultimately led to their removal from the ballot.

As a Village employee, taxpayers are already financing Massaro… will Poulos now be appointed to fill Ronstadt’s vacancy on the zoning board?

NIP takes cash from corporations… and felons

Such kind of undemocratic behavior has generated calls for the Norridge Village board to ban political parties from Village elections and elect nonpartisan independents, as Mount Prospect did in 2010.

For the NIP summer fundraiser in 2019, the party raised $35,000 in a single quarter, with most contributions coming from corporations the Village does business with, including a $4,900 contribution from H&H Electric Company alone.

Some came from a political action committee attached to Dominic Longo, a felon convicted of voter fraud.

Others came from Chicago-aligned Democratic operatives such as Frank Avino –  the Norwood Park Township Democratic Committeeman and Norwood Park Fire Department trustee, and Robert Martwick – the Chicago 38th Ward Democratic committeeman and IL senator appointee.

Further reform proposals would prohibit campaign contributions from companies the Village does business with, as Des Plaines does with vendors who earn $1,000 or more in City contracts.

With these monarchical actions, the calls for change… will only get louder.

Recording of the October 23 2019 Village of Norridge Board Meeting (full video – 10 minutes)