Cook County property tax rates climb

Updated 9/22/2011 6:30 PM

Property owners in suburban Cook County are facing higher property tax rates as property values decline.

Cook County Clerk David Orr released the list of tax rates for schools, park districts, municipalities and other government bodies Thursday showing virtually all are up, some with double-digit percentage increases,


Meanwhile, Northwest suburban commercial and residential property values decreased on average between 2.6 percent and 11 percent, depending on the township.

Bill Vaselopulos, manager of tax extension at the Cook County Clerk's Office, said property owners shouldn't expect lower bills, even if their own property assessment dropped. In fact, bills could rise if many of their neighbors won significant assessment reductions from the county's Board of Review, or if highly valued commercial property also had assessments lowered.

Which is likely. According to the county's Board of Review, nearly 380,000 assessments were appealed this year, the second-highest number ever behind last year's total of 430,000. Officials at the board of review said commercial appeals accounted for roughly 260,000 requests, while residential property owners lodged nearly 116,000 appeals. Jim Thompson, a spokesman for the board, said many commercial requests involve several different parcels and that's why those appeals outnumber the residential counterparts.

Even if a property owner's assessment appeal is granted, there's still no guarantee a tax bill will be reduced.

That's because taxing bodies like cities, counties and school districts are allowed to levy a specific dollar amount and taxpayers collectively are required to cover that cost. Unless taxing bodies lowered the amount of money needed to operate from last year to this year, property owners generally won't see reductions on their tax bills.

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Vaselopulos said the North and Northwest suburbs were reassessed this year for the first time in three years. These assessments factor in real estate data from 2008, 2009 and 2010. It's the first reassessment of these Cook County properties using all recession-era figures.

School districts make up the lion's share of tax bills. For example, Elgin Area School District U-46's tax rate spiked 16 percent from $4.34 per $100 of equalized assessed value to $5.03 per $100 of equalized assessed value. That means the owner of house that was valued at $200,000 last year and saw no change in the value this year will pay about $250 more to the school district.

Wheeling Township Elementary School District 21 taxpayers will see a tax-rate increase of about 15 percent. That means the owner of a $200,000 house would pay about $160 more this year if the value of the house did not change.

Additionally, some of the increased property tax rates are also due to voter approved hikes that are going into effect to pay for capital improvements or operations.

For a list of tax rates, see