The Cook County Board of Review is saving commercial property owners from higher assessments under Fritz Kaegi, but to the detriment of homeowners.
The board slashed assessed values on commercial and industrial properties in seven of the 13 northern townships, bringing down the assessed value of all the properties to $3.29 billion from the $4.83 billion value set by Kaegi, who became the county’s assessor in late 2018, Crain’s reported.
The 32 percent reduction means the owners of apartment, industrial, retail and other buildings who appealed their assessments will pay less in taxes than they would’ve without the board’s intervention. But it will shift more of the tax burden onto homeowners, who were expecting lower property assessments and taxes.
Retired county clerk David Orr told Crain’s that thousands of homeowners will have to pay “considerably more than they should because of the Board of Review.”
Kaegi’s three-year assessment of Cook County’s 1.8 million parcels began last year in the north and northwest suburbs, where his predecessor, Joe Berrios, routinely under-assessed commercial properties, and Kaegi promised during his campaign to correct what he sees as an unfair assessment process.
Kaegi has refused donations from the tax-appeals bar, but all three elected commissioners on the Board of Review accept donations from property tax appeals attorneys, according to Crain’s.
Orr said the assessment system will continue to favor commercial property owners over homeowners until the Board of Review, with its “longtime pay-to-play culture,” is reformed.
Board Commissioner Michael Cabonargi disagreed and said that the Board of Review has ethics protocols in place to ensure transparency and professionalism.
Kaegi’s total assessed value of all commercial and industrial property in the seven northern townships rose 98 percent, to $4.83 billion, from 2018 to 2019. The Board of Review adjusted that to 35 percent, to $3.29 billion.
Meanwhile, the assessor increased residential assessed values 13 percent to $7.29 billion between 2018 and 2019. That was reduced slightly by the board to 9 percent, or $7.06 billion.
Kaegi’s office is still waiting on a full analysis of the Board of Review’s work. [Crain’s] — Brianna Kelly