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County to lower home assessments

Monday, May 11, 2009
Crain's Chicago Business
by Lorene Yue

(Crain’s) — Residents in some suburban Cook County townships will see a reduction in the assessed value of their homes as the tax system catches up with the real estate downturn.

But because tax bills are paid in arrears, it won’t be known if homeowners will see any benefit until next year.

A lower assessed value doesn’t guarantee lower property tax bills, since levies can still rise, said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a tax policy group.

Homes in 30 suburban townships will have their assessed values lowered by 4% to 15%, Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan announced Monday. The reduction is being made to accommodate market changes at a time when suburban areas are not up for reassessment, which happens every three years.

“After careful analysis of market sales and foreclosure data, we determined those townships should not have to wait until their next reassessment for the impact to be reflected,” Mr. Houlihan said in a statement.

River Forest Township will receive a 5% reduction, while Cicero Township gets a 15% reduction.

“Areas hit hard by foreclosures and market drops will see the biggest reductions,” he said in the statement. “The percentage reductions will change if the conditions warrant it.”

Mr. Msall said he was pleased that Mr. Houlihan recognizes the “distinct disadvantage that Cook County residents have with a triennial assessment” given the recent economic downturn, but he called the suburban reassessment a “very blunt tool.”

“We would much prefer comprehensive property tax reform in Cook County,” Mr. Msall said.

The assessors office has begun reassessing Chicago residences this year, and Mr. Houlihan said some homes in the city may receive lower assessments.



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