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Burton Township residents clash with McHenry county, township assessors

Illinois’ quadrennial property assessments aim to get to fair cash value

RICHMOND – Burton Township and county officials fielded questions from the public at Wednesday’s informational property assessment meeting, which more than 100 people attended.

Some members of the public questioned the process used to assess properties and challenged whether the assessors were doing their jobs correctly, while officials insisted mistakes were not made and residents have the right to appeal if they disagree.

Burton Township Supervisor Sam Jones called the meeting at Richmond-Burton Community High School after many residents raised concerns with their property assessments, which were reassessed this year.

Burton Township Assessor Jessica Huber, McHenry County Chief Assessor Bob Ross and McHenry County Chief Appraiser Alex Benitez also were at the meeting to address questions on the property assessment process.

Ross emphasized all Illinois townships have to be reassessed during the quadrennial year, or every four years.

“The unintended consequence of a quadrennial reassessment is that some values have to go up to get to the fair cash value,” Ross said, adding it is the charge of the township assessor to raise or lower assessments as he or she sees fit to get them to fair cash value.

Huber has said she saw a range of assessment percentage changes from negative 10 percent, up to 130 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Burton Township.

Ross said the last quadrennial in 2011 was affected by property values decreasing and homes being foreclosed in the township and county. Properties were being appealed based on those factors, which is partially what led to lower assessments.

Ross and Huber answered questions by residents from a list compiled by Burton Township property owner Paul Kaup.

Kaup received applause from the crowd when he told officials at the meeting there are “gross errors” in how homes are assessed.

“This process is broken, and you folks know it’s broken,” Kaup said.

Ross offered to meet with Kaup later to discuss the errors Kaup has said he found.

“We are basically agencies following state laws in order to do what we do,” Huber said.

She said residents should talk to the people who make these laws if they want to change the system, and said she empathized with their views that taxes are too high.

“They’re upset with the amount of the property taxes, not so much necessarily of their assessments,” Huber said after the meeting. “ ... I did do my job and that’s why the assessments were increased to market value.”

State Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, and state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, both attended the meeting.

Residents can find forms to appeal their assessments on the county’s website.

Ross said cover letters must be in by Nov. 16, and residents will have three weeks after that to complete their appeal packets, which will be reviewed by the county’s board of review.

Ross and Huber have said they’ll be available to help residents through the process and to answer any additional questions.

After the meeting, Kaup felt unsatisfied with the answers given to his questions.

“If you’re over-assessed you’re mad,” Kaup said. “If you’re under-assessed you’re happy, but the people that are over-assessed or appropriately assessed are mad at you because you’re under-assessed. So the system right now pits homeowner against homeowner to point the finger at each other. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Jones said after the meeting it’s important for residents to understand “the people that were under-assessed were being picked up by the people that were fairly assessed,” in previous years.

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