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Modern Estates Trailer Park in Dixmoor, Illinois

Modern Estates Trailer Park in Dixmoor, pictured in 2022. The median property tax bill in Dixmoor has more than doubled.

Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Homeowners in Cook County's south suburbs hardest hit by latest round of property tax hikes

With property tax bills set to hit mailboxes next week, the median bill jumped a record high 19.9% across the southern portion of the county, including bills that more than doubled in Dixmoor and Phoenix.

South suburban homeowners were hit with a severe case of sticker shock this week as Cook County property tax bills started arriving, slapping a record-high hike on the median bill and squeezing low-income areas especially hard.

The median bill for the region jumped 19.9% this year compared to 2023, but the hikes were even more acute in some mostly Black south suburbs that are seeing increases of 30% or more, according to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office. Median property tax bills more than doubled in Dixmoor and Phoenix.

Along with higher levies from taxing bodies, treasurer’s officials blamed the staggering hikes on the elimination of COVID-19 assessment reductions, higher home sale prices and more businesses successfully appealing their assessments to lower their property tax bills — shifting the burden elsewhere.

“Many homeowners are going to be shocked when they get their bills,” Pappas said in a statement. “South suburban homeowners already pay some of the highest tax bills in the county, and these increases will make paying those bills even more difficult.”

An analysis by Pappas’ office of the 1.8 million property tax bills — which will be mailed July 2 but are already available online — found a net increase of $706 million in countywide property taxes, which now tally up to $18.3 billion. Homeowners are eating the vast majority of that increase, to the tune of $611 million.

Overall, 1.3 million Cook County homeowners are seeing hikes, as are 88,000 commercial properties.

Tax bills on newly reassessed properties in the south suburbs rose $265.4 million, a nearly 20% increase that marks the biggest jump in at least 30 years, Pappas’ office said.

Taxes on residents rose $396.8 million across the south and southwest suburbs while taxes on commercial properties dipped by $121.6 million, reflecting the area’s challenging business climate.

The median bill in Dixmoor jumped to $1,950, a 122% increase, while the median bill in nearby Phoenix rose by 107% to $1,744.

Property tax hikes averaged out to nearly 50% in Calumet Park, 43% in Markham, 41% in Park Forest and 40% in Thornton.

North and northwest suburban taxes rose about $214 million, including roughly $110 million on residences and $103 million on commercial properties. Overall, taxes in the region were up about 4%, including 9.2% in Norwood Park Township, 7.9% in Prospect Heights and 6.2% in Niles.

More than 4,100 south and southwest suburban homeowners who owed no property taxes last year — due to exemptions that exceeded their assessed home values — will get bills this year because of a 34% overall increase in assessments.

The decrease in zero-tax bills “could be a bit of good news for local officials who have struggled to attract businesses” to the south suburban region, according to Pappas’ office, which likened the situation to squeezing a water balloon.

“Squeeze it in one spot and the water — in this case the tax burden — moves elsewhere within the balloon,” officials wrote in the treasurer’s report. “Squeeze too hard, and the balloon bursts, as when businesses and homeowners flee, leaving abandoned houses, vacant storefronts and governments struggling to provide services to those who remain.”

More modest increases were felt in Chicago, which saw an overall tax increase of 2.6% due mostly to an increased Chicago Public Schools levy, along with increases in tax increment financing districts.

Chicago property taxes are up by $221.8 million overall, including $116.6 million on commercial properties and about $104 million on residences. The median residential city bill is now $3,811, and $12,156 for commercial.

Roughly 9 in 10 businesses in Chicago received higher tax bills, as did nearly 9 of 10 in the north and northwest suburbs, Pappas’ office said.

“But because of the shift of assessed value from commercial to residential in the south and southwest suburbs, less than a third of businesses in that region received higher bills for tax year 2023,” treasurer’s officials concluded. “Even though tax rates in the south suburbs declined, in some cases significantly, the 19 highest tax rates in Cook County are still in Chicago’s south suburbs, where the population is primarily lower-income Black residents — demonstrating once again the stark inequities in the Illinois property tax system.”

Property tax bills are due Aug. 1. They’re available at cookcountytreasurer.com.

Read the county’s full property tax analysis:

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