Nearly 230,000 property tax appeals have been filed this year in Cook County (Chicago) Illinois. Amid staffing cuts, the current Board of Review (BOR) is more than a month behind schedule for ruling on the record number of assessment challenges for the 2017 pay 2018 assessment cycle.
This delay could set off a chain reaction that could endanger timely funding for local tax jurisdictions.
The Board of Review currently has 105 employees to hear appeals, down from 125 last year. Board of Review spokesman Jim Thompson said there have been repeated warnings that these staffing cuts would cause setbacks.
Until all current Cook County appeals are decided:
The final BOR assessment certification can't be determined
The state can't finalize the county's multiplier
Local tax rates can't be set and extended
2nd installment tax bills may not be mailed by the targeted July first date, and the payment date will be delayed
Schools and other government services will be forced to borrow money and secure a debt to fund their operations until the taxes can be disbursed.
The County Board President estimates that tardy tax bills could cost millions of dollars in lost interest payments for local taxing bodies.
"When Cook County is delayed in collecting tax revenues for schools, libraries, and municipalities, it hurts every resident," Thompson told the County Board.
Earlier this year, the Illinois Department of Revenue released the 2017 Cook County Tentative State Multiplier at 2.9084, which is up 3.75 percent from the 2016 actual state equalization factor of 2.8032.
Analysts expect the final 2017 Cook County State Multiplier to be higher after all the reductions from the 2017 Cook County Board of Review are accounted for.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle predicts next year's budget will be revenue neutral. “I don’t anticipate new revenue when proposing another budget later this year", she said. “There were no votes for new revenue last year. I don’t think there are going to be any votes for it this year.”
The County's initial budget proposal last year relied on more than $200 million from a penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. A citizen backlash led to its repeal.
Higher tax bills may be in store for most property owners in Cook County. Even if your real property's assessed value and local tax rate remain the same, the 2017 taxes payable in 2018 will go up by 3.75 percent due to the 2017 proposed state equalization factor increase.
Many Cook County taxpayers should be prepared for an even higher tax bill should their local tax levies continue to rise, and especially if their property was reassessed higher in 2017 pay 2018.