Fence Post

Article excerpt

Consider this before voting in November

Last year when the market value of homes in the Chicago area was estimated to be down 25 to 30 percent, our Cook County property tax bill soared an amazing 11.7 percent.

Since tax bills are paid a year in arrears, the downturn in market value will be reflected in next year's bill we were told by the powers that be.

We have received and paid the first bill for property taxes for 2009. Of special note is that the first bill reflected 55 percent of last year's total instead of the 50 percent payment, which has been standard for as long as I can remember. How nice for Cook County to basically have an interest-free loan from every property owner of 5 percent of his total 2008 tax bill until the final amount is determined by magic and paid in full.

Now comes the timing of the second property tax bill. Retiring Cook County Assessor Houlihan announced that his office finished its duties the last week in April and challenged the Board of Review to complete its duties in the usual 2 1/2 to three months.

Houlihan has charged the Board of Review, led by Joe Berrios who is running for assessor, was dragging its feet determining property tax appeals. The objective of delaying the second property tax bill would be clearly to avoid voter backlash.

The powerful and lucrative relationship between House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, and Joe Berrios of the Cook County Board of Review is well-known in Illinois.

Madigan and Cullerton are tax attorneys who regularly appeal to the Board of Review, i.e. think Berrios, for tax relief for their affluent real estate clients in downtown Chicago.

Conversely, Cullerton and Madigan are influential in ruling on legislation benefiting Joe Berrios' clients in his other role as a well-paid lobbyist. …