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Township property tax assessments moving forward

Publication starts 30-day appeal window

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 2:41 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:58 p.m. CST

More than half of McHenry County’s townships have published their property assessments, with two more on the way.

The first nine that published are most of the county’s rural, agrarian townships. But McHenry Township published earlier this week, and Dorr and Burton townships, which are predominantly incorporated, will be published next week.

The publication of assessments in the local newspaper of record starts a 30-day period for property owners to contest their assessments that will be used to calculate their 2015 property-tax bills.

County Supervisor of Assessments Robert Ross said it looks like the number of challenges will decrease again this year, following years of skyrocketing appeals in the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble and the Great Recession that ensued.

Each appeal of a property assessment is heard by a board of review, which petitioners can attend if they wish. Tax bills cannot be mailed out until every hearing is finished and all parcels in the county have their assessments set.

Assessments, or one-third of a property’s value, determine a property owner’s share of the tax revenue county, municipal, school, township and other taxing districts receive.

Because assessments determine a property owner’s share of what taxing bodies receive, getting it lowered does not guarantee that the owner’s bill will decrease as well.

Townships in recent years have moved up the publication process because of the surge in appeals, which peaked two years ago at 10,413. The surge was fueled by frustrated homeowners who found that their property tax bills were increasing, despite their homes having lost significant value.

The ironic main culprit is the tax cap law enacted more than 20 years ago to protect homeowners in the Chicago suburbs from out-of-control property-tax increases.

State lawmakers in 1991 enacted the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law on the collar counties, which limits the increase that taxing bodies can receive over the previous year to either 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. But when home values decline – a possibility state lawmakers never envisioned – the tax cap helps government and hurts homeowners by ensuring that governments receive the inflationary rate of increase if they choose to capture it.

While several governments in recent years have chosen to kept their levies flat and reject the inflationary increase, others raised their levies to ensure that they captured the extra percentage. The Illinois Department of Revenue will finalize the inflationary percentage for next year’s bills in December, Ross said.

Because assessments determine a property owner’s share of what taxing bodies receive, getting it lowered does not guarantee that the owner’s bill will decrease as well.

The deadline to pay the second and final installment of this year’s property tax bill is Sept. 4.

Deadlines

Townships are publishing property-tax assessments for 2014 that will be used to calculate next year’s tax bills. Residents have 30 days from the publication date to appeal.

• Alden Township residents have until Monday to appeal.

• Seneca Township residents have until Friday to appeal.

• Hebron Township residents have until Sept. 4.

• Hartland Township residents have until Sept. 5.

• Dunham Township residents have until Sept. 8.

• McHenry Township residents have until Sept. 12.

• Assessments for Dorr and Burton townships will be published next Wednesday, giving residents until Sept. 19 to appeal.

The deadlines for property owners in Richmond, Chemung, Greenwood and Coral townships has passed.

Source: McHenry County Office of Assessments

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