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.

   
  Cook County has the largest unified trial court system in the world, disposing over 6 million cases in 1990 alone.
   
     
     
     



Flummoxed by our property tax system? You're not alone.
If you want a subject that drives people with even the most advanced degree into a screaming rage, take a look at Cook County’s near-indecipherable structure. Here's a story that makes the point.

Thursday, September 09, 2021
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Sir Isaac Newton formulated the laws of gravity and motion. Watson and Crick discovered the DNA double helix that is the blueprint of life. Albert Einstein propounded the theory of relativity.

Child’s play. If you want a subject that’s really tough to understand, something that drives people with even the most advanced degree into a screaming rage, take a look at Cook County’s near-indecipherable property tax system.

Here’s a story that makes the point.

 

A few weeks ago, County Treasurer Maria Pappas released the latest in a series of very solid reports on who pays what under our tax system. In other words, who really gets dinged. The news, as reported by outlets including Crain’s and the Chicago Tribune, was that the usual list of relatively impoverished towns in the south and west suburbs were once again getting whacked, with the total tax bill—or extension—up 10%, 20%, even 30% in towns where people can’t afford to pay more even in non-COVID times.

 

 

Why are officials asking for more taxes in such areas? I decided to try to find out, looking at six towns in particular: Bellwood, Cicero, Dixmoor, Ford Heights, Robbins and University Park. So I asked the Pappas folks if they could break down the tax bill by taxing authority. In other words, of the additional $6.756 million billed collectively to property owners in Bellwood, how much went to the schools, the village and so on? If I knew that, I could go ask those government units why.

Pappas’ office replied that it doesn’t have all that data, and referred me to the official who actually prepares the extensions, County Clerk Karen Yarbrough. Yarbrough’s office doesn’t collect the data that way, either, but provided me a rough workaround. The problem was that Yarbrough’s annual tax-hike figures for the six towns came in a lot less than Pappas’ did.

 

 

Why the difference? After a good two weeks going back and forth, most of the answer turns out to be tax-increment financing, or TIF, that oughta-be-four-letter word that many Chicagoans have come to despise.

While the city has lots of TIF districts, the suburbs have dozens of their own. And of the big tax hike in the six towns I asked about, TIFs soaked up half or more of the loot in three of the towns, and a good chunk of it in the fourth. The money is going not to the village or the local school board, but to the TIF district for economic development incentives or whatever.

The bad news is that, since villages and school boards generally raised their overall tax extension 2% to 4%, all the other taxpayers in town have to make up what those in the TIF aren’t paying. Ouch! The good news is that big TIF hikes generally occur only every third year, the year the pertinent section of the county is reassessed. Since the south and west suburbs were reassessed in the year Pappas’ report covered, Bellwood, et al., appeared to be outliers. But they almost certainly won’t be outliers in the next two years, when there will be no reassessment and TIF taxes will remain about constant.

There’s a different explanation for the big tax hikes in Dixmoor and Robbins. According to Pappas, it’s because the value of properties there was raised more in the reassessment than land and buildings in adjacent towns that share the same school district. That shifted the tax load.

 

County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office says he tried to do something about that, but the Cook County Board of Review changed his proposed assessments, hitting homeowners harder. The Board of Review points the finger right back, saying nothing it did changed the size of the total tax bill from all property owners collectively. Both say they’re just doing their job in fairly valuing property.

Meanwhile, Pappas says her report was just “a snapshot in time” and that next year’s report should resolve any misimpression caused by the triennial reassessment.

 

Got all that? As Civic Federation President Laurence Msall summarizes, “We have a complicated, convoluted property tax monster here.” Amen.



Recent Headlines

Longtime Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims says she will step down next year, calls for another Black woman to replace her
Sunday, October 10, 2021
Chicago Tribune

Ex-Cook County correctional officer subject of federal prostitution investigation
Sunday, October 10, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times

After staying silent about attempted carjacking of security detail, Cook County president promises ‘brief’ public notices in the future
Friday, October 08, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times

Editorial: Cook County must maintain its budget discipline in allocating federal relief funds
Friday, October 08, 2021
Daily Herald

Recent data reveal carjackings in Cook County on track to be the worst in 2 decades
Friday, October 08, 2021
WGN News

Cook County carjackings on pace to be the worst in 2 decades: Camry is No. 1, most victims are men, Sunday’s the worst day
Friday, October 08, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times

Brookfield Zoo Names New CEO
Friday, October 08, 2021
Special to suffredin.org

Editorial: Preckwinkle’s Cook County budget is balanced and smart. Other Illinois politicians should take notes.
Friday, October 08, 2021
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle Details $8B Budget Buoyed By Federal Relief Funds, Rebounding Economy
Thursday, October 07, 2021
WTTW News

Millions to help the poor — but no tax hikes — highlight 2022 Cook County budget
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle unveils spending plan for $1 billion in federal relief
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Crain's Chicago Business

Preckwinkle: Cook County Forest Preserves 2022 Budget ‘A Bridge’ to Property Tax Referendum
Thursday, October 07, 2021
WTTW News

Illinois’ Moratorium on Evictions Has Ended
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Chicago Defender

Cook County’s 2022 budget would balloon to $8 billion, but without new taxes or fees, Preckwinkle says
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Chicago Tribune

Cash assistance in hand at Cook County? Crain's Daily Gist podcast
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Crain's Chicago Business

System News: Letter from Cook County Helath CEO Israel Rocha, Jr.
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County commissioners delay vote on replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Tuesday, October 05, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times

Former Cook County Sheriff’s employee says he was fired because of his age
Tuesday, October 05, 2021
Chicago Sun-Times

A Letter from the President, Toni Preckwinkle
Monday, October 04, 2021
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County releasing $75 million in rental assistance as eviction moratorium ends
Sunday, October 03, 2021
Fox 32 Chicago

all news items

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