We support move, want new assessment: School districts respond to Bears' call for more tax talks

The Daily Herald reached out Tuesday to leaders in Palatine Township Elementary District 15, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214 for their response to Chicago Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren urging them to negotiate with the team over property tax assessments and payments at Arlington Park.

The districts responded jointly in writing. Here are their replies:

Q: From the schools' point of view, where do negotiations over the tax issues stand at this point? What is your response to Warren's ask to go back to the negotiating table?

A: Districts 15, 211 and 214 have, and will continue to be, fully supportive of the Chicago Bears and their potential move to Arlington Heights. We look forward to continuing discussions with the Bears organization this summer on a range of topics related to this matter.

As we did with Churchill Downs and the 2022 assessment, we are confident we will be able to reach an agreement with the Bears on a market-supported 2023 assessment that factors in the recent sale of the property and the anticipated future potential multiuse mega-development.

Q: Have the two sides met since the in-person meeting in April? Are there at least any letters or emails or phone calls being exchanged among attorneys?

A: The last in-person meeting with the Bears and school districts was in mid-April. Since then there have been communications (emails, phone calls, and Zoom calls) between representatives for the Bears and the school districts.

Q: Is the ball in the school districts' court? The Bears'? The county assessors'?

A: We are waiting for the (Cook) County assessor to release the 2023 assessment for the Arlington Park property. The settlement of the 2022 assessment with Churchill Downs is not binding on the assessor (in) 2023 or 2024, and we don't know what value the assessor will place on the property for 2023. Having that information will certainly be helpful in talking with the Bears about the assessment and their desire for "property tax certainty" and a fair assessment. The school districts want the property to be fairly assessed, too.

Q: What is the timeline to reach some type of resolution?

A: It is our goal to reach resolution with the Bears on the assessment issue and on sensible legislation that will allow the project to move forward. The soonest any legislation will be considered by the General Assembly will be the fall veto session (early November) and we are working with that timeline. For the assessment, we anticipate further discussions with the Bears later this summer.

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