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Cook County property values down, but property bills flat

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Cook County homeowners are being hit with a nasty version of Groundhog Day: Once again, even though the value of their home is down, their property tax bill is about the same — or even up a bit.

The latest bad news came today from Cook County Clerk David Orr, who released his annual tax rate survey of the final 2012 levies by the city of Chicago and more than 1,500 other taxing agencies in the county. The survey is for 2012 because property taxes here are imposed a year late.

In Chicago, which was reassessed last year, the total value of property, known as the equalized assessed value, fell 13 percent. That's due to a combination of the reassessment and the state equalization factor decreasing by 5.5 percent.

The decline in values was greatest in residential neighborhoods, 14 to 20 percent, and about 7.5 percent in the downtown commercial district, Mr. Orr said.

With Chicago agencies combined asking for 2 percent more than last year, $75.5 million, that means Chicago homeowners "will stay flat or see a slight decline," Mr. Orr said. And that likely means business property owners will pay somewhat more. But the composite rate — the charge per $100 of property value — is up 17.25 percent, to $6.296.

All of the increased money will go to Chicago Public Schools, which raised its levy 3.4 percent and its bond levy 6.5 percent. CPS also is expected to levy to the cap this year, because it faces a reported $1 billion budget hole.

The good news is that the city of Chicago, Chicago Park District and City Colleges levies all stayed flat.

Trends are a little more complicated in suburban Cook County, in which local school districts and villages do not necessarily head in the same direction all of the time.

But Mr. Orr estimates that tax bills for suburban homeowners will go up about 3 percent, roughly in line with the consumer price index.

The county was not reassessed last year — in other words, its equalized assessed value stayed about even. So with levies countywide up 2.2 percent, to $11.99 billion, most folks will have to pay a bit more.

The biggest rate hikes in suburban areas were in property located in Ford Heights in School District 169, up 17.24 percent; land in School District 163 in Park Forest, up 15.54 percent, and property in Riverdale in School District 148, up 18.83 percent.

Similar trends of property values falling while bills stay flat (or rise) have occurred for some years now. But that dynamic could change, with property values this year finally headed back up.

One complicating factor in all of this is the phaseout of the previous percent assessment cap on homes. It now is gone in the city, with most homeowners getting a maximum exemption of $7,000 compared with the previous $20,000 maximum.

The cap will be gone within two years in suburban Cook County, too, under current law.

Bills for the second half of 2012 are due to hit your mailbox in a week or two. They're due Aug. 1.

2012 Tax Rate Report http://www.scribd.com/doc/149937299/2012-Tax-Rate-Report



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