Opportunities to appeal property assessments for the 2019 tax year still exist for property owners in 15 of McHenry County’s 17 townships, but that number will drop to 13 townships by the end of the week.
Notices of assessment for the 2019 tax year are published as public notices in local newspapers such as the Northwest Herald or the Woodstock Independent. Property owners then have 30 days after the publication date to file an appeal.
McHenry County Assessor Bob Ross said the mailing of notices of publication is not statutory but is offered as a courtesy in McHenry County so that all property owners are aware of the appeal period.
As of Wednesday, assessments for the townships of Chemung, Hebron, Richmond, Hartland, Dorr, Coral and McHenry have been published. However, the appeal period for Chemung and Richmond townships has expired.
The deadline for assessment appeals of Coral Township properties is Thursday and the deadline for Dorr Township appeals is Friday. Publication dates and appeal deadlines for all townships are available on the county’s assessor’s portion of the county website.
Ross said assessments for Nunda, Marengo and Burton townships have been submitted but are being edited.
Grafton Township Assessor Alan Zielinski said he expects the township’s assessments to be submitted by Friday. This year, townships must perform a quadrennial assessment, where 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.
McHenry Township Assessor Mary Mahady said appeals could be based either on market value or equity.
Evidence that an assessment may not be accurate based on market value could be the sales or appraisals of similar properties.
An equity appeal could be based on a homeowner thinking their assessment was treated differently than similar properties, such as a home on a city block being assessed at $150,000 when similar neighboring homes are assessed closer to $100,000.
“[Assessments] are supposed to be uniform,” Mahady said. “Similar properties need to be assessed similarly.”
Appeals often require considerable evidence to be viewed favorably for the homeowner. This might 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 either to hold an in-person hearing or allow the Board of Review to make a decision based solely on the evidence provided.
By going through the review board, Mahady said the appeal procedure provides checks and balances to ensure that township assessors aren’t submitting inaccurate data.
“The entire process allows a taxpayer to disagree with an assessor, file evidence and a neutral panel decides where the assessment should be based on the evidence submitted,” Mahady said.
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.
Ross and Mahady recommend that residents first speak with their local township assessor to understand how the property value was reached.
Mahady will be hosting a public forum about the assessment appeal process from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at McHenry Township Hall, 3703 N. Richmond Road in Johnsburg.
Mahady said she hopes to dispel the myth that the appeal process never results in a change.
“If the evidence is there, it will be a correction,” Mahady said. “It doesn’t cost you anything. If you think there’s a problem, please ask questions and do what you need to do.”
Assessment appeal forms can be downloaded and submitted through the McHenry County website.