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Is Another Property Tax Hike on the Way in Cook County?

By Gary Smith
10/16/2019
Is Another Property Tax Hike on the Way in Cook County?

Cook County property owners, who have already been dealing with lower average home prices and property tax bill increases since 2007, might be asked to pay even more in the coming year. Cook County’s chief financial officer and the Cook County Forest Preserve have hinted that property tax hikes could be in the near future.

Exploring Higher Taxes

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle expects an independent commission to review the possibility of property tax hikes, floated by the CFO recently.

This comes at a time when the average home price in Cook County is still 31 percent lower than it was in 2007 (adjusted for inflation), according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Meanwhile, property tax bills in Cook County have jumped 22 percent (also adjusted for inflation).

In addition, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is asking to add a referendum on the ballot in March 2020 to pay for a long-neglected wish list of deferred maintenance and other projects to care for the nearly 70,000 acres governed by the Forest Preserve Commission.

Although Forest Preserve commissioners sit on the County Board with Preckwinkle, they cannot hike taxes and must instead ask either the voters to do so via referendum or Illinois state lawmakers to do so.

The forest preserve district is currently negotiating how much money to request. Currently, the average homeowner pays between $25-$45 a year to the forest preserve district. It is thought that the referendum might request between $10 and $20 additional dollars to be paid by the average homeowner. The Cook County Forest Preserve District’s 2019 budget totaled nearly $120 million.

Property Tax Appeals Should Be Considered

With possible tax hikes coming down the pipe, homeowners and commercial property owners alike should always double-check the information listed on the property, regardless if they decide to move forward with an appeal.

If there are errors in the record, owners should appeal the assessment so the record can be fixed and the taxable value adjusted.

Even if the information is correct, an owner can still appeal the assessed value.

The assessed values of similar properties should be reviewed. A look at the tax records for properties in the neighborhood that have the same amount of square footage, same features, and were built the same year will provide that information.

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