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Commissioner Larry Suffredin Proposes SAVE OUR HOMES Ordinance to Cap Tax Assessments

Monday, August 25, 2003
Special to

Soaring property tax assessments would be capped for long-time homeowners under legislation proposed Monday by Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) and three other Cook County Commissioners.

Commissioner Suffredin along with Commissioners Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago), Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), and Anthony Peraica (R-Riverside) will introduce the Save our Homes Ordinance at the Sept. 4 board meeting to exempt from taxation any assessment increase exceeding 150 percent of the citywide average.

For suburban homeowners, the benchmark would be the average assessment increase within the assessment district. Cook County is divided into three assessment districts-the city of Chicago and two suburban districts-one north and one south.

Under a grant of authority by the Illinois General Assembly, counties with populations of more than one million may provide property tax relief to individuals and families who have owned their homes for 10 years or more and live in "gentrifying" or fast-appreciating neighborhoods experiencing large increases in property tax assessments.

In 2001, the Cook County Board passed an ordinance providing such tax relief, but placed restrictions severely limiting the number of eligible homeowners. The new ordinance would remove the income test for homeowners, and eliminate the requirement that homeowners apply to the Assessor's Office. Under the proposed law, the Assessor would automatically qualify homeowners and transmit appropriate records to the Cook County Clerk and Treasurer. Tax bills would automatically reflect the tax break on the bills of eligible homeowners.

The commissioners were joined by Barbara Head, president of the Tax Reform Action Coalition, which has organized nearly two dozen community and neighborhood organizations behind efforts to reform the property tax system.

Two homeowners, Enid Becker, of the Old Irving Park neighborhood and Anna Paz of the Edgewater neighborhood, testified to their fears that the pending reassessment would force them to leave their homes and neighborhoods. The current increases come on the heels of sharp jumps in the triennial reassessment just three years before.

In Lakeview and Rogers Park townships and many other townships, homeowners have seen their assessments double; others have experienced 50 to 80 percent increases follow-ing similar increases three years earlier.

Click here for the text of the Save Our Homes ordinance.

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