Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

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.

   
  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.
   
     
     
     



Audit Recommends Ways To Overhaul Cook County Property Tax System

Thursday, May 23, 2019
WBEZ News
by Kristen Schorsch

WBEZ News

Audit Recommends Ways To Overhaul Cook County Property Tax System

Kristen Schorsch

May 23, 2019

Paula Friedrich/WBEZ

A new audit finds it will take a lot of work — and a lot of money — for rookie Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi to overhaul a property tax assessment system that rewards the rich and hurts the poor.

“The task ahead is monumental, and the financial and resource commitment for modernization is substantial,” reads an audit from the International Association of Assessing Officers, released Thursday. “Nevertheless, the gains for Cook County deserve the investment in resources — both human and capital.”

Kaegi, a Democrat, requested the audit to improve how his office conducts assessments. The association behind the study is a nonprofit that develops assessment guidelines around the world.

The push to overhaul Cook County’s property tax system follows a 2017 Chicago Tribuneand ProPublica Illinois investigation that revealed assessments under then-Assessor Joe Berrios were inequitable and riddled with errors. Wealthier homeowners and downtown property owners paid less than their fair share of property taxes, while low-income and minority communities paid more, the investigation found.

That was partly due to more affluent homeowners successfully appealing their assessments to get lower bills. But when that happens, the property tax burden simply shifted to poorer homeowners, the news outlets’ investigation found.

Changes to the current assessment math would impact every resident of Cook County. There are nearly 2 million parcels of land in the county. The assessor decides how to divvy up the property tax burden among property owners, based on the values of their properties.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news, stories and insider events.

Top of Form

SIGN UP

Bottom of Form

Kaegi campaigned on creating create a fairer and more transparent assessment system. In last year’s Democratic primary, he ousted Berrios, a longtime politician and former head of the Cook County Democratic Party. Kaegi went on to win handily in November’s general election.

To fix Cook County’s property tax assessments, the outside auditors recommend that Kaegi focus on four key areas:

·Hire more people. The best way to re-appraise property is to inspect it in person, the audit says. But the assessor’s office only has a quarter of the workers it needs. Based on current staffing levels, it would take 31 years to complete a general revaluation for Cook County, the audit found. That re-inspection is supposed to happen every four to six years.

·Upgrade technology. The old computer system used for assessments is “a roadblock to improvements,” the audit says. The system can’t produce reliable and speedy data inquiries. Kaegi already has been working to implement a new one. Tech-savvy recommendations include using software that captures street-level images of homes and office buildings to complement county employees inspecting properties on foot. The audit also suggests creating user-friendly tools so taxpayers can more easily compare their assessments to their neighbors’.

·Get better data. The quality and quantity of the assessor’s current data on the values of properties is inadequate, the audit found. In some cases, the characteristics of properties — like the number of rooms inside a home or whether the basement is finished — haven’t been updated in decades. How to fix this? Get fresh data sources, such as acquiring sales data that real estate agents use, partner with other county government agencies to use their images of properties, and get copies of all property sales in the county.

·Improve valuation methods. One of Kaegi’s main jobs is to determine how much a property is worth. “The better the estimates … the greater the fairness, equity, and uniformity of any reassessment,” the audit says. Still, in Cook County, there’s a culture of appeal, appeal, appeal. Property owners are encouraged to appeal their assessments year after year to lower them, and ultimately save money. To make valuations more accurate, and reduce appeals over time, the audit recommends that Kaegi hire more staff to verify property sales and map sales data. How far a house is from public transit could impact its value, for example.

In a statement, Kaegi’s office said many of the audit recommendations are areas the assessor focused on in his first 100 days on the job. The statement also highlighted how Kaegi is addressing another audit recommendation: He’s fighting for a proposed lawthat would allow his office to collect financial data from commercial properties that generate income, such as hotels and parking garages. The idea is to collect more information up front to create more accurate assessments.

It’s not clear how much the audit recommendations would cost.

A spokesman for Kaegi said his office does not have an estimated price tag. The audit did not include one, but the report did note the assessor would need more money from the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Kristen Schorsch covers Cook County politics for WBEZ. Follow her @kschorsch.

 

 

 

WBEZ News

Audit Recommends Ways To Overhaul Cook County Property Tax System

Paula Friedrich/WBEZ

A new audit finds it will take a lot of work — and a lot of money — for rookie Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi to overhaul a property tax assessment system that rewards the rich and hurts the poor.

“The task ahead is monumental, and the financial and resource commitment for modernization is substantial,” reads an audit from the International Association of Assessing Officers, released Thursday. “Nevertheless, the gains for Cook County deserve the investment in resources — both human and capital.”



Recent Headlines

Cook County Jail’s book limit ruled as proper
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

Prisoner escapes from Chicago police custody en route to Cook County Jail
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

County clerk’s office needs federal oversight
Monday, September 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

City Club of Chicago: Toni Preckwinkle – Advancing Racial Equity in Cook County
Monday, September 16, 2019
WGN Radio

Choosing Cook County judges, Justice Ginsburg reminds us, should not be a popularity contest
Monday, September 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx interested, wary of working with Trump White House on criminal justice reform
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Is Clerk Karen Yarbrough ‘best official’ in county — or is patronage hiring flap only ‘tip of the iceberg’?
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A secret vote will choose Cook County’s next judicial chief. A $270 million budget, thousands of employees, and the future of a huge court system are at stake.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Evans Faces Challenge Thursday For Position As Cook County Chief Judge
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
WBEZ News

Cook County Health's John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital Receives $5M Federal Grant to Support Cancer Research
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County Forest Preserves Might Pitch Property Tax Hike To Voters
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
WBEZ News

Column: Ethically, Todd Ricketts owes Cook County six more years of property taxes on his Wilmette house. He should pay up.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Watchdog accuses County Clerk Karen Yarbrough of running ‘illegal patronage’ operation, wants court oversight
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Prosecutors Decline To File Charges In About 1 In Every 5 Murder Cases
Thursday, September 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Maps Story of Opioid Epidemic with New Website
Thursday, September 05, 2019
WBEZ News

Slow refund checks for Water Tower residents—including the county treasurer—lead to proposed fee
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Criminal history vs. compassion? County debate over role of rap sheets in rental decisions
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County’s new law barring landlords from turning away tenants with certain criminal backgrounds faces controversy
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Upholding Cook County’s assault weapons ban
Tuesday, September 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Hospital rehab awarded $3 million in state tax credits
Tuesday, September 03, 2019
Curbed Chicago

all news items

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