Property taxes go up as prices continue to slide

April 30, 2012

Becky Vlamis

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced that second installment tax bills will go out on time, breaking a decades-long pattern. That's good news for schools and libraries dependent on property tax dollars. Homeowners, who can expect their bills in July, surely are none too thrilled: Property taxes all over Cook County are expected to rise (again) at a time when home prices continue to slide.

According to Chicago magazine Deal Estate columnist Dennis Rodkin, that's because local governments "still have teachers to pay, roads to repair or -- most burdensome -- pension obligations." When assessments are down, tax rates often increase to make up the difference.

A September report from The Civic Federation that looked at effective property tax rates, which measure the property tax burden for homeowners and businesses, shows that Chicago makes out pretty well compared to suburban Cook County. Residential rates in Chicago rose from 1.31 to 1.45 percent from 2008 to 2009. Of the communities included in the study, Harvey had the highest effective residential tax rate in 2009 at 5.28 percent.
 
Homeowners across the area can expect those percentages to get even bigger in 2015, when legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010 takes effect. The additional tax dollars will go towards feeding police and firefighters' starved pension funds, which, the law requires, must be 90 percent funded in 25 years, with no additional burden placed on the pensioners themselves.

Monday on Eight Forty-Eight, Rodkin examines the impact of property taxes on homeowners and whether the increases will force more people out of their homes. To weigh in, call 312.923.9239.