Feb 16, 2023 - News

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi pushes back against appeals

Photo of a man smiling.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi at his offices in 2021. Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Chicago homeowners could see their future property tax bills shrink under a proposal to reassess hundreds of downtown commercial properties.

Why it matters: Many residents were shocked and outraged by the jump in their delayed 2021 bills, which Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and the county's Board of Review pointed fingers over last fall.

  • Kaegi says if the board adopts his latest move, homeowners could get some relief.

Driving the news: Last week Kaegi reset the value of 559 commercial buildings to their higher 2021 levels after they were lowered on appeal by the Board of Review last year.

  • He believes the board incorrectly granted tax reductions on the properties.
  • "This is us doing our part to say, 'Hey, we found the shift particularly objectionable and not justified in the data, and we think it deserves a look from a new Board of Review,'" Kaegi tells Axios.

Catch up fast: Kaegi was re-elected last November as a reformer who would ease homeowners' tax burden and shift it to downtown commercial landlords who, investigations showed, had traditionally been given big tax breaks.

  • Yes, but: After Kaegi's last assessment, hundreds of downtown properties successfully appealed to the Board of Review and got their valuations and payments lowered — thus shifting most of the burden back onto homeowners.
  • Property taxes in parts of the Lower West Side, in turn, surged by up to 45%.

Between the lines: Building owners affected by Kaegi's latest move are expected to appeal these reset values to the board in the coming weeks.

  • But this is not the same three-person board that originally granted the reductions. Instead it has two new members, Samantha Steele and George Cardenas.

What they're saying: Steele tells Axios she was shocked by some of the valuations determined by the previous board, but her full review of Kaegi's new values will take time due to the board's "limited resources."

The bottom line: With this move, Kaegi seems to be setting up a public litmus test for newly configured board:

  • "These new commissioners can decide if they're going to do the same thing that the old folks did or if they're going to act differently," he told Axios.

What we're watching: The 2022 property tax bills should be hitting mailboxes soon. Because of last year's delays, the county pushed back the payment deadline a month until April 3.


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