Home purchase made by Lyons Mayor Chris Getty raises questions in southwest suburbs
LYONS, Ill. - Finding the right house can be a challenge. But one southwest suburban mayor didn't have to look far to find his home sweet home.
That's because the village of Lyons sold property at a loss to a developer who then built a house, which he sold to the mayor of Lyons.
FOX 32 and the Better Government Association have been digging into the transaction, which has raised eyebrows among some village residents.
Lyons Mayor Chris Getty didn't want to talk on camera after a recent village board meeting. But when we caught up with him in the hallway, he said nobody did anybody any favors.
"There’s no conflict of interest,” Getty said. "There’s no impropriety in any way shape or form."
Just 36 years old, Getty has been mayor of Lyons for a decade – a village of about 10,000 people just off the Stevenson Expressway. For a small town, Getty has a huge campaign war chest – about $400,000.
His father was mayor, too, and then he was sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges.
Former Trustee Bill Ruting says it's a Getty town.
"The agenda is announced, the item is called and the vote is unanimous,” Ruting said.
That’s why the mayor's new home has raised some questions.
In April of 2014, the village of Lyons paid nearly $41,000 for a dilapidated home on Cracow Avenue and tore it down.
The following November, a company called “Skyway Homes” gave $2,000 to Getty’s campaign – the first of many donations.
In October of 2015, the village sold the property to Skyway for $27,000, taking a $13,000 loss after Skyway was the only bidder.
Skyway began building a house on the property, and then donated another $5,000 to the mayor and in June of 2016, Mayor Getty and his wife bought the new home for $291,000.
Zillow now says the house is worth over $400,000 – though those estimates are not always reliable.
When Getty was asked if he knew the property had been owned by the village and was sold at a loss when he bought it, the mayor said he did not know that.
"He is woefully ignorant of the operations of the village, which is a shameful thing for the village president, or the other side for a statement like that, my answer is really? Really? You can sit there with a straight face and say you didn't know?" Ruting said.
Skyway Homes, which is run out of an apartment in Brookfield, has now purchased four properties from the village of Lyons and built five homes, and donated $26,000 to Getty’s campaign.
Moises Gonzalez is the president of Skyway Homes.
"When I bought the property, it was not my intention to sell it to the mayor,” he told FOX 32. “Believe me, I work 14 hours a day. I’m not in a position to be giving deals to anybody."
The mayor's home was never listed. Gonzalez says Getty saw a “For Sale” sign and bought it directly from Skyway to save money on realtor fees.
"It’s a small community. We have a new homebuilder who's building homes in town. I'm going to take advantage of that,” Getty said.
The mayor says it is a win for the village because he now pays nearly $12,000 in property taxes each year.
Full disclosure: FOX 32’s Dane Placko shares some sports tickets with the founding partner of the law firm that works for Lyons, but he was not involved in the reporting of this story.