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Niles Township homeowners may see assessment increase

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Pioneer Press
by KATHY ROUTLIFFE

Niles Township property owners may see the assessed value of their properties jump 40 percent or more as a result of the county's 2004 triennial reassessment, Township Assessor Scott Bagnall said last week.

The high median hike probably reflects the township's strong real estate market, said Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-13th, of Evanston. Bagnall also suggested this year's triennial might be correcting an imbalance caused by low 2001 triennial reassessments, when the median increase was about 12 percent.

"I think it's a natural balancing between the two periods," he said. "I think we're probably at the right numbers now."

The median assessment increase in neighboring Evanston Township was 33.8 percent. Notices for property owners there arrived earlier this month.

Assessment notices had been due to land in Skokie, Lincolnwood and Morton Grove mail boxes this week, but Cook County Assessor James Houlihan's office revised that to next week, Suffredin said.

The new assessments do not affect this year's tax bills, due to come out in September. Those are figured on the basis of 2003 property assessments. This year's figures will affect 2005 bills.

Suffredin and Bagnall have scheduled assessment education sessions for Niles Township property owners, starting with one at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Morton Grove American Legion Memorial Civic Center, 6140 Dempster St.

Other sessions will be:

* 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at Lincoln Hall Middle School, 6855 N. Crawford, Lincolnwood;

* 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at Niles West High School, 5701 Oakton, Skokie;

* 8 a.m. Aug. 19 at the Skokie Chamber of Commerce, 5006 Oakton St., Skokie, for Skokie and Morton Grove non-residential property owners; and

* 8 a.m. Aug. 25, at the Lincolnwood Community Center, 6900 N. Lincoln Ave. for Lincolnwood non-residential property owners, sponsored by the Lincolnwood Chamber of Commerce.

Invitees

The mayors of each village have been invited as well as area state legislators who voted for a bill that will effectively cap property assessments in 2005, 2006 and 2007 at 7 percent annually: Rep. Louis Lang, D-16th of Skokie; Rep. Beth Coulson, R-17th of Glenview; Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-8th of Chicago; and Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-9th of Wilmette.

Property owners should take advantage of every possible outlet they have for protesting valuations they think are too high, Suffredin said.

"People are not used to being as aggressive on appeals as we're going to try to convince them to be," he said.

Owners who think their homes or businesses have been over valued - either through the application of erroneous property characteristics or lack of uniformity with the values of surrounding properties - can take their cases to the Cook County Assessor's office. Further levels of appeal include the Cook County Board of Review, and the Property Tax Appeals Board, or PTAB.

Suffredin said the new law shouldn't lull taxpayers into thinking they need not object to high assessments. In fact, they should do so this year to control the level from which such hikes result, he said.

"People need to still appeal, even if they say, 'Well (my assessments) won't be that bad,' because if they want to sell their property, their ability to do so could be affected. The new owner doesn't keep that new (assessment) level and that will affect the ability to sell property in the future," he said.

The law also has a three-year sunset date. If it isn't renewed, current owners will be hit in the next year by what actual assessments would have been, following the law's demise, he said.

Bagnall emphasized that the high assessments don't necessarily mean that 2005 tax bills proceeding from that valuation will be as high because bills are affected by other factors, such as how much money governments ask for in their annual levies.

Bagnall also said there is a silver lining to higher assessments that property owners sometimes forget.

"A good point to remember is that an assessment increase helps when houses are sold."

For general property valuation information or information on the scheduled education meetings, call Bagnall's office at 847-673-9300; Suffredin's office at 847-864-1209, or the Cook County Assessor's office, either in downtown Chicago at 312-443-7550, or the Skokie office at 847-470-7237.



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