Watchdog group: Tax bills could climb more than 36 percent
November 27, 2006 (WLS) -- Homeowners in Cook County may have to brace for a little shock. Property taxes could go up by as much as 36 percent in Chicago if a 7 percent tax cap is not renewed. Suburban Cook County homeowners would also see a big increase on next year's tax bill as well.
A civic group says it has taken a close look at how much it will cost homeowners if the property tax cap is not renewed, and their final figures are surprising.
The 7 percent tax cap is meant to be a "shock absorber," cushioning homeowners in Cook County from being taxed out of their own homes. It has keep property tax assessments in Cook County lower than they would have been, but there is no guarantee that lawmakers in Springfield will renew this tax cap.
Realtor Jeff Lowe is working to sell property in a softening market. Now the uncertainty surrounding property taxes are making an increasing number of prospective buyers even more skittish about signing on the dotted line.
"The taxes right now are just under $7,600, which compares well in the neighborhood, but we could see something well north of $10,000 if this proposed tax increase goes through," said Lowe.
The Civic Federation has crunched the numbers and believes if the tax cap goes away homeowners in Chicago will see their property tax bills go up by 36 percent. Those living to the north can expect a 24 percent increase. Homeowners to the south may see their bills go up by 11 percent.
If lawmakers extend the tax cap the Civic Federation believes city dwellers will see an 11 percent rise. Bills would go up just a fraction of a percent to the north, and south suburban residents may see their property taxes actually go down.
"It will be easier for people to manage a 10 percent rather than a 30 percent increase; however, what is really needed is a more comprehensive reform of our system, a better way of funding our schools," said Laurence Msall, Civic Federation president.
Until then, Cook County residents will be watching to see if legislators take off what is essentially a legislative band-aide on their property tax bills.
Condo owner Cary Zartman saw his bill double in just one year. That prompted he and some of his Wrigleyville neighbors to attend workshops and learn how to appeal their assessments.
"Most people weren't aware of the 7 percent cap, but certainly everyone's eyes opened to it when we got the most recent bill. Naturally, I'd love to see the cap reinstated," said Cary Zartman, condo owner.
A bill to extend the 7 percent cap failed to get enough votes to pass last spring. State Representative Lou Lang says a new version of his bill to keep the cap will come up for a vote Tuesday, but it may not reach a vote in both chambers until the spring session in Springfield.
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