Assessment appeal clock begins for Chemung Township

If you live in Chemung Township, you have 30 days to appeal your property tax assessment.

Residents of the township, which includes most of Harvard, have until Oct. 24 to file an appeal with McHenry County.

Property owners have a 30-day window to appeal from the day their township publishes assessments, which determine the owner’s share of taxing districts extensions. Chemung Township’s assessments were published Monday in the Northwest Herald.

Taxpayers in neighboring Hartland Township have until Friday to appeal their assessments. Call your township assessor or visit to learn more about how to file an appeal.

Eleven of the county’s 17 townships have published their assessments. The appeal deadline for four of them has passed.

Assessments for Coral Township, which includes Union and part of Marengo, are expected to be published at the end of the week.

Assessment challenges are filed with the county and go before a board of review to determine whether, and by how much, assessments should be lowered.

Reducing your assessment does not mean that a taxing body receives less money.

Because your assessment dictates your share of a taxing district’s levy, all other property owners in that district have to make up the difference if you successfully get yours lowered.

Likewise, you pick up an equal share of the slack for every other successful appeal in that taxing district.

The number of property owners challenging assessments has reached record levels over the past few years as property tax bills have increased despite significant drops in home values. The county fielded 8,893 assessment appeals last year for this year’s property tax bills, up 51 percent from 2010. The 5,885 appeals filed that year were up 40 percent from 2009.

The rate of inflation for next year’s tax bills is 3 percent, which means that local taxing bodies can collect 3 percent more than they did this year. That percentage increase is double the 1.5 percent rate of inflation allowed and billed on property taxes this year.

The tax cap, which is supposed to rein in local government spending by limiting how much more they can collect to the rate of inflation, helps government and hurts taxpayers when property values fall. When values decline, a possibility state lawmakers never considered when they capped the collar counties in 1991, the tax cap works against taxpayers by guaranteeing that taxing bodies can collect the inflationary increase if they choose to take it.

While some governments, such as the McHenry County Board and the city of Woodstock, intend to hold their levies steady and not take the 3 percent increase, many other governments intend to collect it. Other governments, such as McHenry County College and the Crystal Lake Library District, are talking expansion in future years, and voters in April likely will face a referendum to create a “377 Board” and a new countywide property tax to help those with developmental disabilities.

Townships that have not yet set date to publish assessments are Algonquin, Grafton, Marengo, Riley and Hebron.

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