Cook County property tax levies are going up, but not as much as they could.
According to the annual property tax report issued by County Clerk David Orr's office Thursday, the county's 1,500-plus taxing bodies collectively raised property taxes by more than $122 million. The increase represents a little more than a 1 percent increase from 2012 to 2013.
State law ties government agencies' property tax revenue maximum increases to the consumer price index, which was 1.7 percent in 2013. Some municipalities have home-rule powers, which allows them to ignore the state's tax cap law.
Property taxes assessed in 2013 are paid in 2014. The new tax rates are represented in tax bills that will be mailed to county property owners this month and are due Aug. 1.
Bill Vaselopulos, director of real estate and tax services in Orr's office, noted that property values in the northern suburbs decreased an average of 12.8 percent after the reassessment process that takes place every three years. That means a home valued at $300,000 in 2012 would be valued at $261,510 in 2013. The maximum homeowners exemption dropped from $12,000 to $7,000, as well, Vaselopulos said.
Most suburban property tax rates increased, but given the decline in property values, some homeowners could see a reduction in taxes they pay to municipalities like Barrington, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, East Dundee, Elk Grove Village, Inverness, Schaumburg and South Barrington. Homeowners in Barrington Unit District 220 and Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 could also see reductions in their property tax obligations if their property values mirror the average and they receive maximum exemptions.
However, people who live in Hanover Park, Prospect Heights and Maine Township High School District 207 could see substantial increases in property taxes to those governments.
Hanover Park's village board increased its property tax levy by nearly 5 percent in order to cover increases to operating costs, pension obligations, insurance requirements and capital improvements, Finance Director Rebekah Flakus said.
The owner of a $300,000 house there would have paid about $1,400 in property taxes to the village last year, but could see a bill from the village increased by nearly $250 to about $1,650 this year. That's because of the village's increase to its levy combined with a 36 percent increase in the village's property tax rate. That calculation is based on a 12.8 percent average drop in property values, $5,000 less in the value of the homeowners exemption and a 5 percent drop in the Illinois Department of Revenue's equalization factor.
Orr also touted the addition of tax increment financing district collections to tax bills this year. Property owners who live within these special taxing districts are able to see how much tax revenue these districts are taking away from other taxing bodies, Orr said.
"As a longtime advocate for TIF transparency, I'm pleased that this enhancement means tax bills will accurately reflect property owners' true distribution of tax dollars," Orr said.