Commercial property owners facing tax increases after years of being under-assessed: report

As property taxes begin to soar across Cook County, data shows commercial owners paid less on average than they should have under former Assessor Berrios

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and former Assessor Joe Berrios (Credit: Twitter)
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and former Assessor Joe Berrios (Credit: Twitter)

Commercial property owners dealing with rising property tax bills under new Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi might just be finally facing the music after years of too-good deals under his predecessor.

Records show former Assessor Joe Berrios routinely under-assessed commercial properties, and the big tax increases now rolling out across the county might just be a correction to bring them in line with what they should be, according to Crain’s.

State data shows Cook County commercial property assessments were about what they should have been in 2011 but began to drop in favor of property owners during Berrios’ tenure.

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In 2011, commercial landlords were assessed right around the 25 percent of property value required by state law. But by 2017 that average dropped to a little more than 19 percent, according to Crain’s analysis.

Multifamily properties, which were supposed to be assessed at 10 percent of their value, dropped from an average assessment of 12.7 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent in 2017.

Berrios’ office also used inflated cap rates to determine properties values, the analysis showed.

Since taking office more than six months ago, Kaegi assessed the total value of north suburban commercial and industrial properties about 90 percent higher on average than last year, an effort he says brings the properties more in line with their actual worth. [Crain’s] — John O’Brien