Fight Over Cook County Property Tax Bills Heats Up

April 6, 2010

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The war over delayed Cook County property taxes is heating up. The most recent battleground was Tuesday's County Board meeting.

Property tax bills have become Cook County's hottest political potato.

Assessor Jim Houlihan last week said the Board of Review, which hears tax appeals, is intentionally delaying mailing the bills until after fall's election.

On Tuesday the Board of Review fired back. Board Commissioner Larry Rogers says Houlihan misled homeowners to believe their homes' market values have been reduced, which means there are more appeals.

But he says Houlihan never bothers to hear them.

ROGERS: Why? I can't explain to you. Nonetheless, he's not there to defend his number.
HOULIHAN: Uh, Chairman Rogers, that's a total misstatement.

Assessor Houlihan, for his part, says his work is right on schedule.

HOULIHAN: Let me tell you that the idea that the Board of Review is suggesting we're playing politics with the assessment notices is offensive, misleading and not helpful to the discussion of property tax reform.

Late property tax bills mean late property tax revenues. And given the state budget crisis, that could mean big problems for local governments.