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Congrats! The value of your home has gone down
REAL ESTATE | But your tax bill won't necessarily go down, too

Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

As real estate values shrink, so, too, have property tax assessments on the city's far North Side -- but whether that leaves a few extra dollars in your wallet remains to be seen.

Notices sent Tuesday to some 20,000 homeowners, excluding condominium owners, in and around Rogers Park show a median 6.1 percent drop in assessed values, according to the Cook County assessor's office.

"The downturn in the real estate market combined with the increase in foreclosures are having a pronounced impact on the city reassessment," said Eric Herman, a spokesman for the office.

Rick Jones, 45, owner of a three-flat in Rogers Park, isn't anxiously awaiting his assessment notice in the mail.

"Certainly real estate values have gone down much more than that," Jones says. "Property taxes are too high for this area, we've got all kinds of crime problems -- we've had two shootings [recently]. What are we paying these high property taxes for? Where's the money going?"

The assessor's office slices the county into thirds -- city, north suburbs, south suburbs -- examining each section once every three years. This year, it's the city's turn.

Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, calls the decline "historic."

"This will be the first reassessment of Chicago property that has seen a decline in the assessed value in [recent] memory."

While the number crunching isn't quite done citywide, officials expect to see declines across Chicago. However, not every homeowner will see a drop in their assessments, Herman said. For example, the southeast corner of Rogers Park, close to the lakefront, saw a 4 percent median increase in assessments. And condos across Rogers Park township saw a 3 percent increase.

Assessments are used in calculating taxes charged by the city, the Chicago Public Schools, Cook County and other entities.

Because other government entities play a big role in the levies that compose the property tax bill, Msall, cautions taxpayers with reduced assessments to not equate it with a smaller tax bill.

Tax bills based on the new assessments will not be issued until next year.

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