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posted: 4/26/2012 1:00 AM

To lower your tax bill, get involved

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The property tax bills will be arriving in your mailbox soon. As was the case last year, many of you will see an increase in the amount you owe for your tax bill. There will be unhappiness, exasperation, and confusion -- why is my tax bill continuing to increase, as my assessment goes down?

To summarize, as long as taxing bodies continue to raise their levies -- the amount of money they want -- the amounts owed on tax bills will most likely increase. What can the property owner in Lake County do to prevent an increase in the future? Become involved.

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The township assessor is only responsible for assessing all properties within his/her jurisdiction. Township assessors do not send out the tax bills, nor do they set the tax rates. The assessments are published each year in the fall and each property owner has 30 days to appeal the assessed value.

Once that 30-day window closes, except in a rare circumstance, the assessment is final.

If you are unhappy with the amount you owe on your tax bill, determine which taxing bodies increased their levy, which received more money from you this year. Then, attend the meetings of those taxing bodies -- school board meetings, village meetings, park district meetings, library board meetings and the Lake County Board meeting, to name just a few.

Take a look at the budgets for each taxing body. Do you agree or disagree with the budgeted amounts? Attend the levy hearings and satisfy yourself that the taxing bodies are levying in a responsible and prudent manner.

Just because a taxing body can increase their levy, doesn't mean that they should increase their levy.

Until you become involved and ask the tough questions of your elected officials, your tax bill will continue to increase.

R. Christopher Ditton

Avon Township Assessor

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