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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

GOV, look out for tax reassessments

Pioneer Press (Karen Berkowitz):
Suburban homeowners with spiraling home values might want to brace themselves for some property tax whiplash with the defeat last week of a bill to extend the 7 percent assessment cap in Cook County for another three-year cycle.

In a 37-69 vote, the Illinois House of Representatives May 3 rejected Senate Bill 2350, the latest 7 percent cap measure, when it was called for a vote the day before the legislature's adjournment.

If the assessment cap is not renewed, tax bills that homeowners in the north and northwest suburbs receive in the fall of 2008 will be computed on the full amount of the 2007 reassessment.

This analysis is misleading.

County taxes are a relatively small portion of the tax bill, about 7-10%. When a whole community has the property values rise, higher assessments don't cause taxes to rise by much.

The tax burden is spread over the whole community in proportion to the assessment values. So, a rich northwest suburb will experience a slight tax increase if the whole community has values that rise together. The members of this community will experience a slight tax increase as they pick up more of the county tax burden.

The communities that get hammered by reassessment are places like Westchester and Forest Park. When assessments rise in Westchester and Forest Park the property owners not only have to pay a larger amount for Cook County they have to pay a larger amount for District 209, Proviso Township, Proviso Township Mental Health Commission, etc.

The entire tax burden is spread over all the communities of Proviso. But if property values are going up in Forest Park and Westchester and stagnating in the rest of Proviso Township the tax burden shifts to Forest Park and Westchester and away from Maywood, Melrose Park and Bellwood.

Later in the article BOMA weighs in:
"Manipulating assessments to keep taxes artificially low for a select subset of property-rich homeowners ... is misguided and unfair," said Ron Vukas, executive vice president of the Building Owners' and Managers Association.

BOMA's position would be easier for me to stomach if commercial properties didn't get favorable treatment compared to single-family homes (and small multi-unit buildings).

See the General Assembly website (pdf) for the final vote.

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