Tinley Park lodge finds money, new life
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com January 11, 2013 6:18PM
Bill Hendry, trustee at Harald Viking Lodge 13, is seen Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at 6730 W. 175th St. in Tinley Park. The lodge is no longer on the market because of a tax break they qualified for. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:27AM
Officials of a Tinley Park fraternal organization have been celebrating after twice “finding” money recently, including via a property tax break of about $20,000 a year that means they won’t have to sell their “home.”
The most recent discovery to benefit Harald Viking Lodge 13 came when $2,000 that members feared had been stolen was found last week in a walk-in safe.
Lodge members are even more relieved about the other case.
In 2010, lodge officials put the 6,000-square-foot building, 6730 W. 175th St., on the market because of rising property taxes. Then they heard from members of the Viking lodge in Rockford, who told them they might qualify for tax relief because they are a fraternal organization.
Trustee Steve Lingle contacted a tax consultant, who filed a request for a Fraternal Organization Assessment Freeze.
The lodge paid $28,355 in property taxes for 2009, according to the Cook County treasurer’s office, and was slated to pay $24,259 for 2010. But the tax consultant won an $11,500 partial refund for the 2010 taxes, and the annual property taxes were bumped to the current level of about $4,300.
The Fraternal Organization Assessment Freeze allows any fraternal organization chartered before 1920 to elect to freeze the assessed value of the property it owns and uses at 15 percent of the value from the previous tax year. That’s why the taxes dropped so dramatically, according to Cook County Assessor’s office spokeswoman Maura Kownacki.
The Viking lodge was chartered in 1903.
“You can see why they’re happy,” the Vikings’ tax consultant, Tim Clark, of the James Clark Co., said Friday.
Indeed they are.
“That helps out a ton. We try to do activities and we give out scholarships for kids going to college, but that’s hard to do when you pay a big lump sum with taxes,” lodge trustee Larry Nichols said.
Lingle agreed, saying, “Had we found out about this sooner, we probably would have saved another $40,000 or $50,000 over the years. We weren’t aware of it.”
The lodge, in Tinley Park’s former post office, has hosted bingo nights, parties, wedding receptions and other social events along with lodge activities over the years. The national convention of the Independent Order of Vikings was there in June 2010.
The lodge got its start 110 years ago in Chicago’s Grand Crossing community. It moved to Chicago’s Roseland community in 1961 and to Tinley Park in 1976.
Bill Hendry, of Tinley Park, who joined the lodge in 1980, is happy the building need not be sold and is hoping the lodge’s new life results in new members.
“We used to have over 600 members. Now we’re under 200, around 190,” Hendry said. “We’re hoping that this helps bring in some new, younger members.”
Like other members, he’s also pleased the missing $2,000 was found. The money was in an envelope, Nichols said, that “had fallen behind a box.”
Officials had filed a police report, believing the money was stolen between Dec. 17 and 31. With no signs of a break-in, “you think the worst,” as in an inside job, Nichols said.
“We keep the money to pay vendors. We were very relieved when we found it,” he said.
The lodge raises money by hosting bingo every Thursday night, along with events such as a Feb. 9 gathering when an Elvis impersonator will perform.
Money raised throughout the year is donated to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance’s burn camp for children in Lake County.