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Avon Township trustee’s ethics, place of residence questioned

Douglas Williams

Douglas Williams

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Updated: April 7, 2013 6:31AM

Avon Township Trustee Douglas Williams is under fire for claiming a Homestead Exemption on two properties.

The allegation, based on records kept by the Avon Township assessor on Williams’ Hainesville home and a deed to another home he owns in Cook County, was to have been discussed at a special meeting of the Avon Township Board called for Monday, March 4. Williams is challenging Avon Township Supervisor Lisa Rusch in the April 9 election.

Chris Kennedy, Williams’ attorney, said he’s exploring whether the hastily called township meeting on Monday was a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

“This is an obvious and cheap political stunt,” he said.

Lowell Jaffe, a township resident and political and communications consultant who supports a slate led by Rusch, said records call into question both Williams’ ethics and his true place of residence. He said Williams has been critical of the supervisor, who was appointed last year to replace former Supervisor Sam Yingling, who won a seat in the state Legislature.

The Homestead Exemption, which reduces property taxes, may be taken annually only on the owner’s principal dwelling.

“This guy has knowingly for decades been claiming multiple homestead exemptions,” Jaffe said. “He’s out there telling people that he can do a better job than the current administration, which has lowered taxes by 22 percent. I just can’t reconcile that.”

Williams could not be reached for comment. But Kennedy said the matter is not the township’s business “in any way.”

“It’s not something the township has the legal authority to act on,” said Kennedy, who accused Rusch’s supporters of borrowing a play from former Congressman Joe Walsh, who unsuccessfully challenged his opponent, now U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth, on the same issue.

Kennedy said Williams bought the house in Chicago, where he used to live, in 1996.

“They automatically renew the exemption,” Kennedy said. “I’m working with the Assessor’s Office to figure out whether any additional taxes are owed to Cook County. If he owes it, he’ll pay it.

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