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Debate continues over progress of property tax bills

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It's just possible the Cook County Board of Review is hearing more tax appeals this year than any other tribunal in the United States, says spokesman Scott Guetzow.

A verbal sparring match between the board and retiring Assessor Jim Houlihan over whether the county property tax bills will be sent out before the Nov. 2 election has been going on since spring.

Houlihan sees a conspiracy.

But if the bills don't make it out by then, Guetzow said, it won't be the Board of Review's fault.

Under the tax process, Houlihan's office must finish its assessments before the Board of Review can start hearing appeals. Houlihan's office said it finished its work by April 29.

In a March 25 letter, the three Board of Review commissioners said it would take two-and-a-half to three months to process this year's appeals. Under that schedule, the Board of Review should be finished at the end of the week. If history is a guide, that means the tax bills could be in the mail in late October.

But this year is different.

On Monday, Guetzow said that as of July 13, the board had returned to the assessor's office 16 of the county's 38 townships. That's five more than were completed at the end of June, but still well shy of a complete job. Although the appeal process is taking longer than usual, he said he thinks the tax bills can be out before the election.

Usually, most tax appeals are filed by property owners from "triennial" townships that have been reassessed in a particular year. But this year, people in the "non-triennial" townships are appealing, too. For example, in Wheeling Township, which was not reassessed, appeals were up 474 percent. Elk Grove Township, also not reassessed, saw an increase of 485 percent. That's because many property owners are reacting to the assessor's new "10-25" rule, Guetzow said. The rule, designed to add clarity to the process, is leading property owners to think the market value of their property has been unduly raised, he said.

Houlihan thinks the 10-25 rule is just good government and isn't causing delays.

The second installments of tax bills - technically, they're due to be out in late summer - typically are late in Cook County. But Schaumburg Township Assessor John R. Lawson said Monday local officials had been hearing that the bills might not be out until March of 2011, which would throw the budgets of many schools, municipalities, libraries and other taxing districts significantly out of kilter.

According to Lawson, the fall tax bills haven't been on time since 1977.

As for the idea the bills intentionally will be delayed until after the election, Guetzow said: "There is no conspiracy. We want to get them done as early as possible."

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Houlihan took until April 29th to finish his part. Even though that's longer than he took a few years ago, Houlihan blames one member of the Board of Review for delaying tax bills. Sounds like a political agenda to help Houlihan's candidate for assessor.

ALL townships within Cook County WERE re-assessed for the 2009 tax year. According to the Assessor's press release and notices sent to property owners, this was to show that they were being responsive to the recession and the sharp decline in the housing market. Not to mention that it is also an election year.

The Assessor appears to have applied a 'blanket' adjustment to each out-of-cycle Township on the order of 5% to 8% reductions from what I have seen.

This of course will make absolutely no difference (for the most part) in the actual tax bills, since everyone in a given township is receiving the same adjustment, each property owners share of the overall tax bill will stay the same.

The exception would be if a given school district (or other taxing district) spans townships that received different adjustments.

As noted the "10/25" ordinance also went into effect for the 2009 tax year which directed the Assessor to assess residential properties at 10% of "market value" (the value the Assessors office computes using sophisticated regression analysis software and possibly some black magic), instead of the 16% value that was the previous value required by ordinance. The "25" refers to the percent to be applied to all other property classifications.

What the Assessors office also did, which was NOT called for in the language of the "10/25" ordinance was to first INCREASE this "market value" amount in their database, such that when the new 10 percent formula was applied, the assessed values of the properties would come out EXACTLY THE SAME as before.

I have not seen any explanation of why this was done, which since it appears to be in conflict with the new ordinance, would seem to be a topic of interest.

The current way is not right! To do it right instead of Market-Sale-Vale property tax, you do the Henry George way, asess the land only at Economic Rental of Land Value Tax System! That way, no one has to suffer to pay both Income and Sales Taxes, The only right the Land-owner-holder-tenur-er has is the ability to restrict the number of workers on his or her or "their" land--the land belongs to everyone in trust & surety, or it actually belongs to no one! With The Economic Rent of Land Value Tax System, people wont be left holding the bag if the big-shot down-town building owners dont pay their fair share of Market-Sale-Value Property Taxes! The Land Value Tax System is versatile, economical, and extremely flexible, paying for Research, Mass Transit, Capital Projects, Education, Health-Care-Insurance, and Affordable Housing! Since theres only 66 days until the Illinois General Election you better work fast and get on my campaign bandwagon, and help me as The Independent Write-In Candidate for Governor of Illinois! Me and my fellow Georgists will govern you much better than Quinn, Brady, Walls, or Cohen, and that so-called "Libertarian" posing as one , and is really a Super-Duper Coserv-e-ative! So nows the time to be a follower of Henry George!

Why do the conventional way of assessing land the Market-Sale-Value way! Why? because the present way corrupts the process, and destroys the confidence of voters by conventional politicians! Do it the Economic Rent of Land Value Tax Way of Henry George! OK?!

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