Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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.

   
  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.
   
     
     
     



A national group studied commercial property tax assessments in Cook County under the last assessor, Joe Berrios. The results were not pretty.

Monday, September 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Under Fritz Kaegi’s predecessor as Cook County assessor, commercial properties as a group were valued far too low, valuations varied widely among similar properties, and the property tax burden was unfairly shifted onto the owners of less expensive properties, according to a new study Kaegi commissioned from an international nonprofit organization.

The broad undervaluation of commercial properties under former Assessor Joseph Berrios meant residential property taxpayers paid more than their fair share of the county’s tax levy while many higher-end commercial property owners got an unauthorized break, Kaegi said in an interview.

 

A property’s assessed value determines its tax bill. Generally speaking, the higher the assessment, the higher the bill.

The conclusions of the new study, released Monday but provided to the Tribune in advance, are nearly identical to the findings of a 2017 investigation by the Tribune and ProPublica Illinois but are based on more recent data. The International Association of Assessing Officers, whose standards are widely accepted across the United States, looked at assessments of commercial properties throughout Cook County after Berrios completed his 2018 round of assessments, which affected the 2019 tax year.

The study, which cost $6,000 and was funded with a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, is one of several Kaegi has commissioned since taking office in late 2018, after he defeated Berrios in the Democratic primary while running as a reformer. The earlier studies concluded that Berrios' residential assessments also were often inaccurate and tended to overvalue lower-priced properties and undervalue more expensive ones.

The 2017 investigation, “The Tax Divide,” had already documented how assessments conducted under Berrios shifted more of the tax burden onto less affluent homeowners.

After the Tribune published the first installments of that series, Berrios tweaked his residential assessment process. But he did not change the way he was valuing commercial properties before voters removed him from office.

Kaegi called the most recent study “an acid test of where the system is.” Kaegi added that he plans to commission further analysis of his own work, noting that some states mandate studies that compare assessed values with market values.

Since taking office, Kaegi has dramatically revamped the assessment process, particularly the way business properties are valued. He started from the ground up, reworking the assessment formula and drawing on publicly available information about sales prices and loan deals.

He first applied those techniques last year in the north and northwest Cook County suburbs — and encountered a good deal of pushback from many people who owned business properties whose assessed value increased substantially.

When Kaegi reassessed the north suburban region — defined as all suburbs north of North Avenue — the assessed value of commercial properties in the region rose by 77%. The Board of Review, an elected three-member panel that handles assessment appeals, later scaled that overall increase back to 25% by overruling some of Kaegi’s valuations.

Business organizations and property owners also formed Renew Cook County, a nonprofit with undisclosed funding that has hired Resolute Consulting, the same public relations firm that helped opponents kill off Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s penny-an-ounce soda pop tax. That effort was funded by the American Beverage Association.

Renew Cook County contends Kaegi’s assessment “approach discourages growth, stability and investment in Cook County," according to its website.

Many critics have long decried the assessment appeal process in Cook County as an insiders' game that supports a large cadre of property tax attorneys and consultants who in turn kept Berrios' campaign coffers full. Kaegi has sworn off such campaign contributions.

For the new study, the international assessors' group looked at 1,643 business property sales throughout Cook County in 2018 and compared the sales prices with the assessed values. It found that in the county as a whole, properties were assessed at a median of 61% of their actual sales price, far from the group’s acceptable range of 90% to 110%.

The comparison was even worse in Chicago, where the median valuation of commercial properties was found to be just 52%of sales prices. For Evanston, the figure was 39%; for Oak Park, 43%.

Compounding the underassessment problem was the fact that commercial assessments were not consistent, varying widely among similar properties.

The study also also found that overall assessments were regressive, meaning less expensive properties were overvalued and more expensive ones were undervalued, which unfairly burdens less wealthy property owners. The problem was worst in Chicago’s central business district and on the Near South Side and the Northwest Side, according to the group’s analysis.

Taken together, the problems with commercial assessments were less severe — but still problematic — in the south suburbs and worst in the city, the study found. “Commercial assessments in the city are indicated to be more consistently undervalued, less uniform and more regressive than assessments in the north or south (suburbs),” it stated.

Preckwinkle, who was a close Berrios ally, said in a statement that she “appreciated” Kaegi’s efforts to make the system fair and accurate.

“The IAAO is an internationally recognized expert in evaluating assessment practices,” she wrote. “We look forward to their continued evaluation of whether or not Cook County’s assessments meet industry standards.”



Recent Headlines

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle proposes raising Forest Preserves budget next year with rainy day funds
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Delays leave suburban Cook voters wondering if their ballots will count
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois orders tighter restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings in several suburban counties as coronavirus positivity rates rise
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Why some Cook County voters are still waiting for mail-in ballots
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Daily Herald

Editorial: Impact of COVID-19 emphasizes role of ACA in Cook County budgeting
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Daily Herald

Cook County tosses ‘lifeline’ to needy residents, opening housing voucher waiting list for first time since 2001
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

'COVID fatigue' blamed for second surge in coronavirus cases; Chicago health experts warn people not to let their guard down
Monday, October 19, 2020
WLS ABC 7 Eyewitness News

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: COVID-19 cases on the rise in long-term care facilities; applications open for relief fund for restaurant workers
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Tribune

For first time in nearly 20 years, Cook County opens suburban housing voucher waitlist. At least 10K people already applied.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Preckwinkle balances the county’s COVID budget. Next up, Lightfoot.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Gov. J.B. Pritzker blames President Trump and his allies for coronavirus spike in Illinois
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Chicago Tribune

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle outlines $6.9 billion budget plan: ‘This pandemic has dealt Cook County and its residents a catastrophic blow’
Friday, October 16, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle touts restorative justice in budget that slashes court, jail funding: ‘We cannot police our way out’
Friday, October 16, 2020
The Daily Line

‘We Are In a New Wave of COVID-19’: Pritzker
Friday, October 16, 2020
WTTW News

Everything You Need To Know About Voting Drop Boxes In Illinois
Friday, October 16, 2020
WBEZ News

Pritzker Extends Ban on Evictions for 7th Month
Friday, October 16, 2020
WTTW News

Pritzker to extend eviction moratorium another 30 days: ‘Nothing really has changed’
Friday, October 16, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Record-high Illinois COVID-19 caseload, hospitalizations and positive test rate rising: ‘We are in a new wave
Friday, October 16, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

A Cook County budget built to ‘weather the storm’ — but the rain had better be moving on
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Layoffs, cutting vacant jobs all part of Preckwinkle’s $6.9 billion budget plan to ride out COVID-19 storm
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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