WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board gave a raise, over a handful of objections, to a Board of Review that heard another record year of assessment appeals. County Board members voted Tuesday evening, 19-3, to grant 2.5 percent raises to the review board’s three primary hearing officers.
The raises, retroactive to the Dec. 1 start of the county fiscal year, increase Chairman Jan Hevert’s salary to $31,677, and the salaries of members Mark Ruda and Clifton Haughton to $30,765.
The Board of Review, which consists of three primary members and 12 alternates who receive a $125 per diem when they are called in, heard more than 10,000 appeals for assessments that will determine this year’s property-tax bills, Supervisor of Assessments Robert Ross told County Board members.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the McHenry County Board of Review,” Ross said. County Board member Diane Evertsen, R-Harvard, did not question the quality of their work, but disagreed with handing out raises to government employees while local taxpayers are suffering.
“What I do dispute is while we have an unemployment rate of 9 percent, for heaven’s sake, do we need to give a 2.5 percent increase on the backs of taxpayers with no jobs at all?” Evertsen said.
Preliminary data released last week put the county’s jobless rate at 9.7 percent for January.
The number of assessment appeals has skyrocketed since the bursting of the housing bubble. The 8,893 appeals filed last year were up more than 50 percent from the 5,885 appeals in 2010. And 2010’s appeals were up by 40 percent over those filed in 2009. The county assessor’s office fielded only 677 appeals a decade ago.
The board of review’s numbers and compensation increased as well to deal with the workload. The three primary members made $20,000 a year in 2009, when the County Board increased the number of alternates from nine to 15. The county had 17 alternates last year.
County Board member John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, who also voted “no,” said the county should investigate what he called the rampant over-assessment of properties that has led to these record appeals.
How they voted
The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday, 19-3, to give a 2.5 percent salary bump to the three primary members of the Board of Review who hear property tax assessment appeals. Voting “no” were John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, Diane Evertsen, R-Harvard, and Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake. Board members Sandra Fay Salgado, R-McHenry, and Michael Walkup, R-Crystal Lake, were absent.