Some Cook Co. residents calling for reform over rising property taxes

CHICAGO -- Rising property taxes are hitting some Cook County homeowners hard, and some are calling to reform the system for determining fees.

So far, two North Side areas of Chicago have gotten the assessments and they are up double digits.

A stronger housing market is one reason, but many are in shock that in just three years since the last assessment, their taxes will be increasing so much.

Monday’s property tax battle began at the county building downtown.

Andrea Raila, the former candidate for Cook County Assessor, took aim at steep Chicago property assessment increases arriving in the mail.

“Something is not right with the assessment in Lakeview and it’s a true concern of ours,” Raila said.

The reality is hitting home for homeowner John Bellino.

“I’m not sure what to do at the moment. I could sell this thing in a minute but this is my neighborhood,” he said.

His assessment went up 59 percent over three years. His taxes also increased.

He’s not alone. There are eight townships in Chicago when it comes to assessments, that are assessed every three years. So far, only Rogers Park and Lakeview have gotten the news of the latest round, a median increase of more than 18 percent in Rogers Park. In Lakeview, it’s 31 percent. The six other townships will find out over the next five months.

The Cook County assessor said the assessments are based on more modern methods of estimation.

“Those are new resources that weren’t available before. We’re using them now. And the result is that the assessments in Lakeview and Rogers Park townships are within industry range for accuracy,” Tom Shaer, with the Cook County Assessor’s Office, said.

Laurence Msall with the Civic Federation said when it comes to property tax assessments, Illinois ranks as one of the most complicated in the country and political climates played a major role leading to today.

“There’s a perfect storm coming in Illinois and it’s already here. Pressure on property taxes, unfunded pension liabilities, too many unites of government and a general assembly that’s still trying to put together its own budget before it addresses the problems of local government,” Msall said.

There are deadlines to challenge these assessments. The Rogers Park deadline is coming up in just two days, Lakeview’s deadline is in two weeks.

The Civic Federation said the bottom line is that Cook County needs to do reassessments every year, not the current three year cycle, which will help with these steep increases and sticker shock.

Dozens of North Side homeowners attended a workshop Monday evening to begin the process of appealing.

There is a two-step appeal process for Cook County property tax assessments. The first is with the Cook County Assessor’s Office. If you get denied by them, the second step is to appeal to the Cook County Board of Review.

For a full timetable of deadlines to appeal visit cookcountyassessor.com.