Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.
   
     
     
     



Joe Berrios' property tax debacle

Friday, July 21, 2017
Chicago Tribune
by Editorial Board

Start with three points that are obvious, especially for anyone whose payment is due this month:

Illinois local governments collect some of the very highest property taxes in the nation. A huge share of the money that runs Illinois schools and other crucial services comes from these same property taxes. And the rising public outcry is so loud, the burden on employers so egregious, that the governor of this state has demanded a temporary property tax freeze.

And here's what ought to be obvious to Illinois legislators and local officials but evidently isn't: If you're going to be this reliant on a locally run tax system, it had better be accurate, transparent and fair.

Cook County's property tax scheme is none of the above. That raises several agenda items for taxpaying voters. High on that list: dumping county Assessor Joe Berrios.

The system Berrios oversees is so opaque that it easily can be gamed, mismanaged and abused by politicians and their cronies. Why doesn't he acknowledge how unjustly his number-crunching disadvantages many citizens? Well, Berrios did boast in 2015 about his office's new and improved property valuation system. But as we've all read in 2017, he quietly abandoned that system.

That was only one maddening finding of a Tribune investigation published last month. Another: Berrios' methodology perpetuates inequities between wealthy and low-income communities. Pricier homes have been chronically undervalued by the assessor while lower-priced homes have been overvalued. Even though property owners can appeal their assessments, that process, too, typically rewards the owners of higher-priced homes.

Berrios' office also has resisted Tribune reporters' efforts to learn precisely how his system works. His methodology should be as transparent as that of an income or sales tax scheme. Of course, if Berrios did publish his actual protocols for determining a property's value, then reporters from this and other news shops would compare what assessments should be with what assessments really are — after the politically connected lawyers who shower campaign contributions on Berrios finish lobbying his office for lower assessments.

This debacle playing out in Cook County, with Berrios being grilled by county commissioners, comes at a terrible time for Illinois Democrats. Berrios is the county Democratic chairman, reporting to House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state party chairman and, by purest coincidence, a lawyer whose firm specializes in appealing property tax valuations to Berrios' office.

Democratic county commissioners who, like Berrios, are up for re-election next year represent many of the working-class and poor communities victimized by Berrios' system. Berrios' best county ally, Board President Toni Preckwinkle, will spend the next 16 months trying to explain why she won't call for his ouster.

Some of the Democrats running for governor are exploiting or trying to get ahead of the property tax issue, which should grow only more volatile as the election cycle intensifies. None of them wants to offend Madigan, but each of them knows he had better not wind up in a campaign photo clutching Berrios' paw.

Gubernatorial hopeful Chris Kennedy calls the property tax system a racket similar to extortion, citing all the political donations an assessor rakes in. State Sen. Daniel Biss, another candidate for governor, has introduced legislation to make the assessment process more transparent. Then there's candidate J.B. Pritzker, who may never live down his purchase of a mansion and his successful valuation appeal because the mansion supposedly is uninhabitable.

Ousting Berrios is only a first step. The next assessor has to be someone whose behavior in office justifies local governments' heavy reliance on the property tax. Voters, remember what Cook County and its current pols don't give you: a system that's accurate, transparent and fair.

Join the discussion on Twitter @Trib_Ed_Board and on Facebook.

Become a subscriber today to support editorial writing like this. Start getting full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.



Recent Headlines

Illinois Dept. of Revenue Releases Final 2018 Cook County Equalization Factor
Thursday, June 06, 2019
JD Supra

At Cook County Jail, Inmates Relax Their Minds, Bodies With Yoga
Thursday, June 06, 2019
Prison Mindfulness Institute

Skokie drops recent proposal to opt out of Cook County minimum wage ordinance
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

JAMA examines rising drug costs • CVS' ambitious transformation • Cook County extends Medicaid contract
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

DCFS says nonprofit misused taxpayer dollars, demands repayment of $100K
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County judge, ripped for ‘insensitive’ racial comments, dumped from bench
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Offers Low Cost Rabies And Microchipping Clinic
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Patch

Masturbating Cook County Jail inmates could cost taxpayers $2 million-plus in legal fees
Tuesday, June 04, 2019

New training and protocols needed at Cook County, task force says after sexual harassment scandal
Friday, May 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County assessor's tax reform bill skids in Springfield
Friday, May 31, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi's property tax reforms stall out in Springfield
Friday, May 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District has found the first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in the District this year.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County to Address Perinatal Health Disparities with $4.8M Grant
Friday, May 24, 2019
WTTW News

Audit Recommends Ways To Overhaul Cook County Property Tax System
Thursday, May 23, 2019
WBEZ News

Cock-a-doodle-deferred? After ‘urban farmers’ cry foul, county tables rooster ban
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

From green screen computers to staff shortages, a new audit says Cook County's property tax system needs more resources
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Measles Exposure Reported in Chicago
Monday, May 20, 2019
WTTW News

News from the Cook County Health System
Friday, May 17, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Health Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Skokie plans for road improvements near Edens Expressway: 'It’s desperately needed'
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Skokie Review

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP