Vantage High Rise benefits from a 40% tax reduction. Kaegi blames appeals process

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In 2018, Vantage Oak Park, the huge apartment tower located at 150 Forest Ave. in Oak Park, sold for over $ 100 million.

Two years later, the office of Cook County appraiser Fritz Kaegi assessed the building’s market value at around $ 90 million. Kaegi’s valuation would have resulted in approximately $ 8 million in property taxes owed on the Vantage property for the 2020 tax year.

But in Illinois, landowners dissatisfied with appraisals have three levels of appeal: the county or county appraiser level, the Illinois Board of Review level, and the Appeals Board level. Illinois property tax or circuit court appeals.

After appealing the appraiser’s figure to the Cook County Board of Review (BOR), Vantage’s market value was assessed at $ 48.5 million and the building’s tax bill for 2020 was reduced by 40%, to $ 4.9 million.

“We do not understand how they arrive at their decisions,” said Assessor Kaegi, referring to the BOR. “I feel like Oak Parkers needs an explanation.”

Kaegi, himself an Oak Parker, said the massive reduction in the BOR valuation is in line with what happened in Cook County this year as many residential property owners saw their tax bills skyrocket while the largest owners of commercial property taxes have received substantial tax relief.

“The assessments determine the share of the property tax burden,” Kaegi said. “It all depends on how much the average residential owner carries the burden versus commercial and non-residential properties that carry the burden.

“When we got to this office, the data showed that business valuations in Cook County were on average roughly 40% undervalued. Our administration’s mission has been to close this gap and make residential valuations less regressive. ”

But Kaegi said the BOR assessments undermined much of that mission. For example, the 40 percent reduction in the BOR appraisal on the Vantage property translates into an additional $ 50 to $ 75 in property taxes for a homeowner living in a $ 500,000 house in the village, said Kaegi.

In Oak Park, the median residential property tax for the 2020 tax year was $ 10,422, an increase of $ 246 from the 2019 median, according to a report by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas .

The assessor’s office has created an online data dashboard that allows residents to see the difference between residential and commercial tax assessments, as well as the degree of discrepancy between the county assessor’s and BOR assessments. .

In 2019, the BOR valued total non-residential properties in Oak Park at $ 117 million and total residential properties in Oak Park at $ 528 million.

The following year, the county’s total non-residential valuation was $ 203.4 million, while the BOR’s total non-residential valuation for that year was adjusted to $ 147.7 million. dollars, a decrease of 27%.

The appraiser’s total home assessment for the 2020 tax year was $ 554.8 million, which the BOR adjusted to $ 543 million, a 2% drop.

According to the Appraiser’s Dashboard, the BOR appraisal reduced the market value of four of the village’s five most expensive properties by 40% to 51%, cutting those property tax bills in half.

Attempts to contact board representatives for comments on the appeal process were unsuccessful.

During last week’s telephone interview, Kaegi said he was attending a conference in Chicago by the International Association of Assessment Officers. Kaegi said when speaking to colleagues across the state and country about the Cook County assessment process, they were often stunned.

“We are a grotesque anomaly in the United States in many ways,” Kaegi said.

Kaegi said Cook County stands out for the number of calls, multiple levels of appeal and lack of transparency in data collection.

“The last time we reassessed Chicago, we had about 500,000 calls,” Kaegi said. “In the Illinois Downstate, less than 10% of packages are attractive. The people who can use this system reduce their share of the property tax burden at the expense of everyone else who ends up making up the difference. So you put people at a disadvantage who don’t speak English or who can’t afford lawyers.

Kaegi added that Cook County “is one of the few large urban centers in the United States that does not have basic powers to collect data.”

The result is that powerful commercial property owners often play with the system by questioning the county’s numbers on the basis of questionable and obscure arguments during the BOR appeal process.

Without automatic and accurate income and expense data provided to the county by commercial property owners, Kaegi said the BOR’s unpredictable appraisal process, dominated by powerful law firms, will continue to throw an ax of war in its reform efforts.

Kaegi said he hopes the data bill he has been pushing in Springfield in recent years will finally be passed now that Emanuel “Chris” Welch, whose district includes parts of the River Forest, is chairman of. Illinois House.

The assessor said earlier attempts to pass the bill in a state dominated by a Democratic-led majority were blocked by former President Michael Madigan – the founding partner of a law firm that files property tax appeals.

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