Property assessment appeals in McHenry County for the 2018 tax year dropped from 3,240 in 2017 to 2,632, an estimated 18.77% decrease, according to a report released each spring from the McHenry County Assessor’s Office.
Of the 17 townships in McHenry County, Richmond was the only one that had an increase in appeals in 2018, going from 52 in 2017 to 59.
Although this is the lowest number of appeals that county and township officials have dealt with in years, it does not necessarily mean residents are any less upset over the value of the homes or the price of their property taxes.
McHenry County Chief Assessment Officer Bob Ross attributed the decline to a few factors, such as market improvements in the lower end of the housing market and it being the last year before a state-mandated reassessment takes place.
“It was difficult to make a case for an assessment appeal in 2018 in a lot of areas,” Ross said.
Appeals have been on the decline since 2015, the year of the last quadrennial assessment, which is when township assessors revalue all property based on sales activity from the previous three years. This is required for all counties except Cook, which must perform the assessment every three years.
Before 2015, appeals also experienced a steady decline after the 2011 quadrennial, dropping from 10,413 in 2012 to 7,103 in 2013 to 4,308 in 2014. With 2018 being the last year before the quadrennial assessment, Ross said a lot of people probably already have tried to appeal.
Ross said the assessed value of residential properties typically stays level through a quadrennial evaluation unless an equalization factor is required.
This multiplier is used to ensure that the equalized assessed value of property in all Illinois counties is 33.3% of the fair market value. The calculation often will add to the assessed value of a home, making the homeowner pay more in taxes.
Notices of assessment for the next tax year will be sent to county residents sometime in the fall, and they will be published as public notices in local newspapers such as the Northwest Herald. Once sent out, county residents who feel the assessed value of their property is inaccurate will have 30 days after the publishing date of the notice to file an appeal with the McHenry County Board of Review. But first, residents must meet with their assessor and do an informal appeal.
Ross advised residents to make an appointment with their respective township assessor to learn how the assessment number was reached.
“If you have a burning issue about assessments, you can call the assessor’s office before you get the notice,” Ross said.
Appeals often require considerable evidence to be viewed favorably for the homeowner. This may include recent sale information, recent appraisals or comparable sales, or assessment data from properties similar in size.
Once the appeal form is submitted, appellants can choose whether to hold an in-person hearing or allow the Board of Review to make a decision based solely on the evidence provided.
If a resident still is unhappy with the assessment once a ruling is made, they can appeal the decision to the State Property Tax Appeal Board or file a tax objection complaint in circuit court.
In the 2018 tax year, a total of 485 new appeals were received that went through the State Property Tax Appeal Board process, up from 332 in 2017. A total of 61 hearings were conducted, and 154 decisions on the appeals were received.
Lake in the Hills resident John Mueller appealed his property assessment in 2016, 2017 and 2018, according to records on McHenry County’s website.
Although the assessment remained the same in 2016 and 2017, his property assessment dropped by about $6,000 in 2018. Only the value of Mueller’s home was dropped, but he argued that his property’s proximity to a cellphone tower and an abandoned golf course did not make the land the superior lot the Grafton Township Assessor’s Office rated it to be.
Mueller said what frustrated him about the process was that the assessor’s office submits comparable properties to the Board of Review and provides its own recommendations. Although the properties his home was compared with have similar values, other properties he examined had disproportionate comparables.
Other findings from the county assessor’s 2018 report include a 6.24% increase in the median sale price for existing single-family residences in the county, which went from $221,200 in 2017 to $235,000.
Grafton Township again led the way in new residential construction among all townships. Ross said this has been the pattern for the past 20 years because of its proximity to the Interstate 90 tollway.
“That should prove that development follows the highways and byways,” Ross said.
For information on the appeal process, visit the McHenry County Assessor’s Office website or call 815-334-4290.