Cook Co property tax assessments deemed "flawed" in ProPublica investigation
SCHAUMBURG, IL - At a luncheon of the Technology and Manufacturing Association's (TMA's) Government Relations Committee (GRC), investigative journalist Jason Grotto led a discussion into the Cook County Assessor's "deeply unfair, likely illegal" property tax assessments.
"No one has faith in the property tax system here," said Grotto. "The system has been broken for so long, and there's this ecosystem of property tax attorneys who are in power everywhere so there's little motivation to fix the many problems we've uncovered in the Cook County Assessor's Office."
Over the course of the luncheon, Grotto detailed how the clear manipulation of property assessments was leading to highly regressive assessments for lower income communities and small businesses while benefiting wealthier communities and large businesses, especially high rises in Chicago. He also exposed the lack of transparency from the Assessor's Office, including how they have refused to release information showing how they determine the values of commercial & industrial properties, forcing multiple costly lawsuits.
"The system is clearly set up to force property owners to hire property tax attorneys and their appraisers. The problem is that the data shows that the appeals process makes regressivity worse, and the public has no authority to see how the Assessor decides appeals. Meanwhile, over 60% of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios' campaign contributions come from these property tax attorneys," Grotto claimed.
When asked what taxpayers and business owners could do to fix the problems, Grotto urged them to channel their outrage, organize, and demand change. "This is your government. Hold them accountable. Demand that they open up and become transparent."
Dennis LaComb, Vice President of Government Relations for TMA, summarized: "The assessment system in Cook County is purely arbitrary and illogical. Its primary purpose is to fund the ecosystem and fund campaign contributions through property tax lawyers. This isn't a Democrat or Republican thing, it's a small group of corrupt people who are funding their power by manipulating property values in Cook County, which makes up 49% of the property value in Illinois, all to the detriment of Illinois manufacturers, small businesses, and families in lower income communities."