Sticker Shock Coming For Some Chicago Property Owners

Lisa Fielding
May 21, 2018 - 5:03 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- If you live in Chicago's Lakeview Township, you may notice a significant jump in your home reassessment.

"Mine was up 50 percent," said Margot Wang, who lives in a one-bedroom condominium in Uptown. "My taxes were around $900 before and it'll probably be near $1,300 next year -- a huge increase I don't think I can catch up to. It's crazy.”

She's not alone. According to a new study of assessment increases, the average assessment increase in Rogers Park and Lakeview Township is 32 percent.

"The City of Chicago has eight townships. The first two townships for reassessment for the triennial year 2018 have come out. These increases are astronomical,” Andrea Raila, a former candidate for Cook County Assessor, said at a news conference Monday.

"There are 60,000 home and condo owners where 25,000 have received 32 percent up to over 100 percent increases. It's a huge increase in assessments that are really not warranted," added Raila, president of TRAEN Inc. "Something isn't right with these assessments in Lakeview. We are concerned."

Andrea Raila talks about higher assessments. (WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding)

Tom Shaer, a spokesperson for the Cook County Assessor’s Office, said assessments are up because the real estate market is healthier on the North Side.

"Current assessed figures are based on a three-year analysis of sales for 2015, 16 and 17," he said. "There is a misconception that this is an increase from one year to the next -- that's not true."

Shaer says the Assessor's Office was instructed that they should make changes and improvements in the assessment model.

"We have implemented improvements in the assessment model. We are within the correct ranges for regressivity in assessments as recommended by the International Association of Assessment Officers," he said. "It was alleged that we didn't meet those standards in the past."

This is the first reassessment using an improved model, he said. The old property tax assessment system was found to have an unfavorable impact against lower-income minority homeowners.

Chicago property owner Margot Wang (WBBM Newsradio)

"We were accused of under-assessing these expensive homes on the North Side. Now, we are told that we are over assessing those homes on the North side. We go by what the sales analysis over a three-year period tells us. We absolutely agree that improvements in the assessment system were necessary. We have made those improvements and we will continue to make them, but the assessments in Rogers Park and Lakeview are within industry range for accuracy.”

Raila says she's received countless calls from outraged property owners about getting huge triennial reassessment increases. She is calling on the state for reform.

"We need to cap triennial reassessment increases to no more than 15 percent after a three-year stay," she said. "If we don't cap these, we are in a real problem with seniors who cannot hang onto their homes.”

She added: "We should also cap the tax rate. There's been historical growth. You may recall we got a 10 percent increase in our tax rates because the mayor said we had to cover our pension cost. But that is following huge increases in our reassessment notices.”

Each year, the Cook County Assessor's Office reassesses one third of the nearly 1.8 million parcels of property located in Cook County. In this tax year, the properties are located in the city of Chicago.

Shaer said homeowners have until June 7 to appeal. "Always someone is going to believe that their assessment is too high. We encourage them to appeal,” he said. “The appeal process is designed to fine-tune assessments when appropriate, which we are happy to review and consider."

Reassessment notices contain proposed property values for tax year 2017, which will be reflected on Second Installment Tax bills to be mailed and due in the Summer 2019.

"Assessed Value" is 10 percent of a home's estimated market value.

Wang says regardless, if her tax bill goes up by 50 percent, she may have to move.

"I may have to move to Wisconsin where there are lower taxes. I can't live in the city if this keeps going on," she said.