The Cook County Board of Review Has Reviewed and Corrected the Excessive Assessments Issued by the Cook County Assessor
Fritz Kaegi and the Cook County Assessor’s Office has recently prepared a report which it claims to show that the Cook County Board of Review has corrected the Assessor’s Office’s original assessments in an excessive manner, especially those assessments placed on commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners in the northern townships of Cook County during the 2019 triennial assessment period.
In Kaegi’s report, he determined that his runaway assessment increases for commercial properties were corrected and reduced by the Cook County Board of Review from $10.17 billion in cumulative value for non-residential property owners to $7.19 billion. The Cook County Assessor has publicly stated that instead of valuing properties on an individual basis, he has intentionally tried to base his valuations on increasing the overall tax burden on non-residential properties such as commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners. Kaegi’s agenda is founded on the idea that he believes that commercial, industrial and multi-family property can shoulder the increased real estate tax burden irrespective of the specific circumstances that may negatively affect real estate values such as increased vacancy of their commercial units, or the inability of property owners to raise the monthly rents of their tenants where tenants are required to pay for their portion of property tax increases.
The Cook County Assessor’s Office increased commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners more than 70% on average during the 2019 triennial assessment of the north and northwestern townships of Cook County. The Cook County Board of Review offers an avenue for taxpayers to contest an assessment made by the Cook County Assessor that they believe is incorrect. The Board is empowered to review the Assessor’s certified assessments and if given adequate evidence from the Taxpayer, to reduce assessments that are excessive based on the specific economics and occupancy situations for the property owners who file overvaluation appeals.
When the Cook County Board of Review issues its decisions, they provide their detailed reasoning in an “analyst’s summary” which is available to the public through the State’s FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. Of recent note, the Cook County Assessor’s Office has not granted FOIA requests in a timely manner for taxpayers and real estate tax practitioners to review the Assessor’s methodologies in reaching their decisions on any particular property. This fact refutes the Assessor’s Office’s public claims of their office being “transparent”.
Whereas the Assessor’s Office’s mandate to value property on a more “macro” level, the Cook County Board of Review reviews appeals before their agency on a “micro” level weighing the individual property’s characteristics and particular circumstances including hardships involving prolonged vacancies and declining rent collections and revenues due in part to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Certainly, the Board of Review’s work is more sensitive to particular difficulties of individual properties, whereas, the Cook County Assessor’s Office appears to be more focused on shifting the overall tax burdens on a macro-level to non-residential (commercial, industrial and multi-family) properties.