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City lets tax bill slide for tree lover

The City of Evanston reportedly has agreed — for now — to let the owners of a condo get away with not paying a special assessment for alley paving even though the owners lost a court case at the center of the dispute.

The City of Evanston reportedly has agreed — for now — to let the owners of a condo get away with not paying a special assessment for alley paving even though the owners lost a court case at the center of the dispute.

The dispute, as reported by the Evanston Review, involved Padma Rao and her mother, who objected to the city’s decision to remove a tree that was partly on the city alley and partly on land owned by the condominium complex in the 2200 block of Sherman Avenue.

Rao, a physician, claimed that cutting down the tree violated her religious beliefs, but state courts ruled in favor of the city that the tree belonged to the condo association — not Rao — and the association had agreed to the paving project for which the condo unit owners would have to pay. The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to take up Rao’s case.

City officials this week said they won’t add Rao’s condo to a list of tax delinquent properties whose unpaid taxes could be sold at auction — a step that, had it happened, could eventually lead to Rao losing title to the condo if she continued to refuse to pay the tax bill.

But City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told Evanston Now this morning that "it is the city’s intention to be made whole at some later point."

It generally is not possible to get the city property transfer tax stamps required to sell real estate in Evanston without proving that all property taxes and special assessments have been paid.

The case reportedly has cost the city $40,000 in legal fees over the past several years.

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