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Cook County Commissioners Advance Property Tax Relief Plan

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Special to suffredin.org

Six Cook County Commissioners Thursday advanced a revised property tax relief plan to blunt the impact of the recent reassessment of Chicago homes.

The revised plan, an amended version of the Save Our Homes ordinance introduced last fall, would block excessive property tax increases on longtime homeowners. Under the amendments offered Thursday, more homeowners in more neighborhoods would be eligible for relief and a ceiling of $500,000 would be placed on the value of eligible homes.

Finance committee Chairman John Daley announced a public hearing on the ordinance for March 10th at noon in room 569 of the County Building, 118 N. Clark.

According to Cook County Assessor James Houlihan, property tax relief must be enacted by the end of April in order to change the pending fall tax bills. Those tax bills reflect the enormous reassessments recently completed in Chicago.

Although the Illinois General Assembly has near exclusive power to change the property tax system, the Cook County Board has the legal authority to provide significant property tax relief to longtime homeowners. Under state law, a longtime homeowner is defined as someone owning their home for 10 or more years. In his state of the city speech last week, Mayor Richard Daley called for the law to be changed to four years, a change supported by the commissioners.

The Save Our Homes ordinance is sponsored by Commissioners Forrest Claypool, Earlean Collins, Mike Quigley, Anthony Peraica, Larry Suffredin and Bobbie Steele.

If enacted, the Save Our Homes ordinance would exempt from taxation any assessment increase that is more than 15% above the citywide average. In the case of suburban homeowners, the benchmark would be the median assessment increase within either the northern or southern suburban triennial district.

The commissioners encouraged the legislature to adopt the more sweeping package of property tax reforms proposed by Mayor Richard Daley in his State of the City address speech last week, using the broader powers of the Illinois General Assembly. However, they say they will move their tax relief bill toward a vote if the legislature does not act in time.

The commissioners argue that longtime homeowners should not be forced out of their neighborhoods by skyrocketing assessments. Their proposed ordinance would allow for modest assessment growth, reflecting actual property values, but would place a ceiling on taxes caused by increased assessments.


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