WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- Homeowners in a Metro East community say a special deal is supposed to give them a rebate on their real estate taxes but they said the mayor is holding up their checks.
And that's not the only thing they are accusing the mayor of doing.
"I still owe a mortgage on the home," Suggs said.
Darron Suggs takes pride in his Washington Park, Illinois home. In 2000, he paid $92,000 for the property, but now says it's worth a fraction of the price. Declining property values aren't surprising to Washington Park residents.
"The value is going down so much," Garryl Simpson said. He's also a homeowner in the village.
Both men pay real estate taxes year after year. Simpson pays more than $1,900 and Suggs nearly $3,000.
"We're paying taxes, where are the services?" Suggs said.
Many streets in the village have giant potholes, a lack of sidewalks and the list goes on. Vacant dilapidated homes near occupied homes don't help property values. But there's supposed to be a silver lining.
"This one here is a tax buy down to help these homeowners with their taxes," Suggs said.
Village trustee Mary McKinney said a special fund with more than a million dollars is supposed to provide many village residents with tax relief. Residents said approximately half of the real estate tax bill is supposed to be refunded back to them. It was part of the incentive to buy here years ago.
"Usually we get the check before January, haven't received anything," Suggs said.
News 4 asked how badly these people need this money released. McKinney said "very badly."
McKinney blames the hold up on Mayor Rickie Thomas.
She said this is on the mayor and he has the authority to release the money.
Trustee Juliette Qosa agrees.
"You are incapable of being mayor. Resign right now!" Qosa said.
News 4's Investigative Reporter Chris Nagus went to the mayor's Washington Park address. Nobody answered the door and that leads to another controversy in this community.
According to St. Clair County property records, Thomas owns another home in a well-kept neighborhood in Shiloh.
A resident on the same street didn't want to appear on camera, but told News 4 the mayor of Washington Park lives in the Shiloh home with his family on a regular basis. This irks some of the residents and trustees.
"The mayor and I are not in agreement on a lot of things but I live here," McKinney said. "You can't agree with me if you're not here. If I hear gunshots I'm on the floor, he's not."
"If you don't want to do the job get out of office right now," Suggs said. "We need someone who lives here to do the job."
News 4 crews went to the village hall and another trustee that supports the mayor said it's all political off-camera. That trustee also said many of the checks intended to help residents have already been released.
Suggs said he didn't receive his.
Residents said they want the money to make needed repairs in where work needs to be done. But getting a quick response from the mayor has been anything but easy.
"He comes up with more than one story," McKinney said. "First he says you have to go through the state, this was done through the village, not state not HUD, this is the village's money so it comes from our property taxes that we pay."
According to Illinois municipal codes, you must be eligible to vote in the municipality you represent, and live there for at least one year.
Thomas clearly owns a house in Washington Park and Shiloh, but so far he has refused to speak with News 4 on camera about any of these issues.