|Address||180 E. Pearson |
Chicago, Illinois , United States
|| June 07, 1949
Apr 24, 2020 01:13pm
|Info||Maria Pappas' no-nonsense, can-do values are rooted in her childhood in Warwood, West Virginia, in the mining region of the Ohio River Valley. |
It's a small community far from Cook County, but Warwood was where Maria's Greek immigrant grandparents told her she could succeed at anything, because that was part of the American Dream. As a youngster, Pappas was the top musician in the All-State Band, touring around the country and at the World�s Fair in Montreal. She also directing the choir and played the electric pipe organ as a teenager at her local church, and she developed a knack for twirling a baton as a drum majorette.
At the same time, Maria developed a keen interest in social service health-care as she worked at the family restaurant across from the region�s only hospital, and as she made deliveries and talked with the hospital�s patients.
That was the basis for Maria Pappas' pursuit of excellence in public service.
Today, Pappas is the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois with experience as a legislator, and, more importantly, as an executive who took over a troubled agency and built a model of public service.
As Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas oversees the collection, investment and distribution of $8 billion a year for 1,600 taxing districts, and a refund system for 1.6 million taxpayers. She was re-elected with nearly 1 million votes in 2002 after the following:
* Upon taking office in 1998, Pappas found $30 million in un-cashed checks on the floor, not earning interest and not ready to be distributed for schools, police, fire protection and parks. She introduced the lockbox system for same-day processing of payments�and deposits into interest-earning accounts so that funds could reach local agencies faster. Through better accounting and investment controls, Pappas has turned over more than $335 million in new interest and revenues for Cook County.
* Pappas launched collections at more than 120 banks across the region. She initiated payment over the Internet. More than 2.1 million people have used these services to make payments at their convenience. Long lines during collections are history.
* Pappas utilized the Internet and a new automated phone system as new tools to reach more than 120,000 property owners who are owed approximately $135 million in unclaimed refunds.
* Pappas worked to help remove 1,200 African American church properties from the delinquency lists and tax rolls.
* Pappas proposed and won taxpayer-friendly legislation to help taxpayers clear tax errors administratively, which also reduced the court caseloads.
* Pappas� office has set records in the efficient issuance of more than $131 million in overpayment refunds to taxpayers, including the introduction of a system for reducing checks that were submitted for more than what was due.
* More than 1.9 million people have visited www.cookcountytreasurer.com since the start of the year, and currently more than 8,700 taxpayers visit the site each day. More than a payment option, the web site provides for easy interaction on tax balances, refunds, information on reducing the tax burden and more. The site is a leader in providing homeowners with consumer-protection information in the event their mortgage lender makes a mistake on their taxes. Information on programs and helpful forms also can be downloaded. In keeping with the region�s rich diversity, the site offers information in 12 languages.
* In little more than two months, more than 182,000 taxpayers have used a new automated phone system that provides information around the clock on systems ranting from refunds to tax balances�in English, Polish and Spanish.
* Through fiscal discipline and controls, the office has returned approximately $4 million in budgeted but unspent funds.
* The office completed a comprehensive, independent audit for the first time in 26 years. Since then, the office has completed annual audits with �unqualified� opinions and findings of no material weaknesses, firsts in the history of the Office.
* In 1998, the office had 12 desktop computers, and many systems that required hand-written entries in separate sets of books. Maria Pappas built a 175-terminal network that integrates refunds, collections, deposits, earnings, distributions, and other key office data streams. This change helped deliver faster service, sound accounting controls, higher yields, and better access to data for both taxpayers and taxing agencies.
* TOPS -Treasurer�s Outreach Program and Services- is a grassroots effort to provide tax information to Cook County�s ethnic communities and senior citizens. TOPS distributes property tax information brochures in 13 languages, hosts ethnic groups, and provides speakers to local clubs and organizations.
* Studying multi-million-dollar computer systems in California and then duplicating the best of them at a fraction of the cost�by hiring competent programmers.
* Creating a new safety net "friends and family" delinquency alert system for seniors�an innovation that then became the law for every county treasury in Illinois.
Before moving into public service, Pappas earned a doctorate in counseling and a law degree. As a young woman, Pappas taught in the U.S., England, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and Israel.
Pappas� passions include �figuring out how people think,� long-distance bicycling and triathlons, her dog Koukla, playing the piano, twirling the baton, cooking, handwriting analysis and studies on early-childhood memories. Pappas� bicycling has included participating in the 500-mile Midwest AIDS Ride from Minneapolis to Chicago; the two Ground Zero-to-Pentagon 300-mile rides in memory of those killed in the 9/11 attacks; and the �Cowalunga� Tour to benefit a camp for children with asthma sponsored by the American Lung Association.