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Cook County Assessor Kaegi Fails to Uphold Previous Cook County Board of Review Assessment Reductions Granted Last Year

Cook County property owners received their first installment 2022 tax bills in the mail this weekend.  For many property owners, particularly those who own properties located in Chicago which was reassessed in 2021, their first installment 2022 tax bill was higher than in prior years because of dramatic increases to their property values that were issued by Cook County Assessor, Fritz Kaegi, during the 2021 assessment year.  The Cook County first installment tax bill is always 55% of the prior year’s total real estate tax bill.  For those who experienced larger 2021 tax bills as a result of the re-assessment of the City of Chicago in 2021, the first installment tax amounts were higher than in prior years.

In terms of the payment due date of the first installment 2022 tax bill, that has been moved back one month from March 1, 2023 to April 3, 2023 due to the delay in finalizing the 2021 tax bills which were primarily caused by the Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s appeal session being delayed from what was characterized as the implementation of a new computer system at the Assessor’s Office when the City of Chicago was being reassessed in 2021.   As a result of the delay, the second installment 2021 tax bills which would normally be posted in late June/early July for August 1st payment,  were postponed more than four months to November 15th, 2022 which is when the second installment 2022 tax bills were first published on the Cook County Treasurer’s website.

The Cook County Assessor did not address the delayed 2022 tax bills and instead announced publicly in an article in Axios Chicago dated February 16, 2023 that he reset or increased the assessed values of 559 commercial building to their higher 2021 levels after they were subsequently lowered by the Cook County Board of Review’s appeal process last year.  Kaegi stated that “This is doing our part to say, ‘Hey, we found the shift particularly objectionable and not justified in the data, and we think it deserves a look from a new Board of Review.”  Kaegi claimed that hundreds of downtown properties successfully appealed to the Cook County Baord of Review and got their valuations and real estate tax payments lowered.  He claimed these reductions shifted most of the burden back onto homeowners.  Assessor Kaegi failed to account for the hardship suffered by downtown properties which includes increased vacancy due to the Covid19 pandemic.  Office vacancies have increased to historical highs of 21.4% in 2022 due to increased numbers of tenants vacating their spaces or downsizing the amount of space that their businesses need to operate.  Kaegi also fails to recognize that office landlords will pass on increasing real estate taxes on to their tenants which will further increase the exodus of office tenants from Chicago or companies moving their business or headquarters away from Cook County.

Cook County Assessor Kaegi’s action to increase the assessments of 559 commercial buildings attempts to shift the percentage of the real estate tax burden more on the struggling commercial office and building owners will create more hardship for Chicago’s office tenants and lead to more office building foreclosures as seen with Marc Realty’s $16.5 million loan foreclosure at 216 W. Jockson Boulevard; 175  W. Jackson Boulevard being seized by lenders; and more properties going up for sale such as 300 W. Adams Street and a block of offices above the JW Marriott Chicago at 151 W. Adams Street, Chicago.