Thursday, August 27, 2009

Assessment notices offer more information

August 27, 2009

Lake County residents have begun receiving their property tax assessment notices for 2009 in the mail -- and they may notice something slightly different this year.

In past years, homeowners received a small postcard often referred to as a "blue card" containing their property assessment valuation for the current year. The 2009 assessment notices are still blue but are printed on a legal sized sheet which contains a great deal more information about the assessments.

"Clearly, a lot more information is available for taxpayers on this form," said Martin Paulson, chief county assessment officer for Lake County.

So far, nearly 100,000 assessment notices have been sent out to homeowners in Lake County, according to Paulson. The first notices were sent out to homeowners in Moraine, Libertyville and Zion townships in mid-August. Shields and Cuba townships were sent out last week, and taxpayers in Antioch and Ela townships were expected to receive their forms this week. Assessment notices for other townships will be mailed out in September through November.

Despite the nationwide downturn in the housing market, Paulson said assessments in many townships will likely be flat or down only slightly this year, while other townships may actually see a slight increase in assessments. That's because assessments are based on an average of the previous three years sales activity.

Taxing bodies

The county's new assessment notice will provide basic assessed valuation information, as well as some property characteristics of the property, a breakdown of last year's property tax bill and the percentage of money that goes to different taxing bodies, and a graphic describing the assessment cycle and the tax district levy process.

The form also includes more information on how to file a property tax appeal, as well as information about homestead exemptions that may be available to Lake County homeowners.

"We know that there are some people that aren't getting homestead exemptions, for one reason or another," Paulson said. "Many times, they don't know it's available. That's particularly relevant for seniors because there are more benefits available to them."

New legislation

The new assessment notices were developed largely in response to new legislation sponsored by State Sen. Michael Bond, D-32nd, of Grayslake, aimed at increasing transparency and improving homeowners understanding of their assessments and the assessment process.

Senate Bill 207, also known as the Homestead Assessment Transparency Act, requires assessment notices provide residents with an explanation of how their property assessments were calculated, in addition to the property's current and past value, and notices also must include an explanation of the procedure to follow if homeowners believe there are problems with their assessments. County officials will be required to post this information on the county's Web sites and to provide clear explanations of how property taxes are equalized.

Bond said the legislation came out of work of the Citizen Action Project, a tax assessment watchdog group based in Grayslake.

"We're hopeful that this legislation will be the first step toward wholesale reform of the tax assessment process," he said. "Taxpayers are demanding more accountability for the use of their tax dollars."

Paulson said while the state statue doesn't take effect until the 2010 assessment cycle, the county revised its form this year to provide additional information for taxpayers.

"I think we knew it was coming," he said. "When the legislation passed, we were already kind of working on a parallel track."

In addition to the new assessment forms, Paulson said the assessor's office also is providing more information about the assessment process on the county Web site and is hosting informational assessment tax help centers throughout the county. Paulson and County Treasurer Robert Skidmore also will have a live chat on Sept. 1 at 11 a.m. on the county's Web site, www.lakecountyil.gov, where taxpayers will be able to e-mailing questions they have about their assessments.

http://www.pioneerlocal.com/highlandpark/news/1733667,lake-county-assessments-082709-s1.article

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A look at assessmment.

Courtesy of Lake County Journal

To the Editor:
Citizens Action Project, a Lake County-based, nonprofit organization who's mission is to bring fairness, transparency, and accountability to the property assessment process, is proud to announce the signing of SB 0207, the Homestead Assessment Transparency Act. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law last week.

This legislation is a victory for the Illinois property owner. For too long, they have been in the dark about how assessors calculate property assessments. Moreover, information on what recourse property owners had to challenge their assessments was very confusing. No longer. All of this information will now arrive in the mail on a single sheet of paper as their blue card.

The legislation, written by CAP and Sen. Michael Bond, D-Grayslake, and championed by Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr., R-Mundelein, gives the taxpayer a clearer understanding of how their assessments are calculated. Excluding Cook County, property owners will see new information on their blue cards (for an example, contact the chief county assessor of Lake County, the first county to role out the new format) that give property owners a clearer understanding of their assessments and recourse if they wish to appeal.

CAP will be celebrating the passage of SB 0207 at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at the Byron Colby Barn, 1561 Jones Point Road, in Grayslake as part of "Understanding Your Tax Bill," a moderated discussion with Lake County chief assessor Martin Paulson; James Glogovsky of the Tax Extension Office, and Andrew Searle, business manager of Fremont School District 79.

To learn more, visit, www.citizensactionproject.org.

Steve Minsky
Vice president of Citizens Action Project

http://www.lakecountyjournals.com/articles/2009/08/25/16425355/index.xml

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lake County: reading your property assessment

Lake County should be commended for how well they now inform property owners about their assessments and tax bills. Here is yet another example explaining the blue card new layout:

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs040/1102402691740/archive/1102660374362.html

Friday, August 7, 2009

Governor signs CAP bill into law.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Governor Signs Assessment Bill
2009-08-07

Grayslake, IL August 7, 2009 -- Citizens Action Project (CAP), a Lake County-based nonprofit organization who's mission is to bring fairness, transparency, and accountability to the property assessment process, is proud to announce the signing of SB0207, the Homestead Assessment Transparency Act, http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=096-0122. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law on Tuesday.

According to Steve Minsky, Vice President of Citizens Action Project, "This legislation is a victory for the Illinois property owner. For too long, they have been in the dark about how assessors calculate property assessments. Moreover, information on what recourse property owners had to challenge their assessments was very confusing. No longer. All of this information will now arrive in the mail on a single sheet of paper as their blue card."

The legislation, written by CAP and Senator Michael Bond, and championed by Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr., gives the taxpayer a clearer understanding of how their assessments are calculated. Excluding Cook County, property owners will see new information on their blue cards (for an example, contact the Chief County Assessor of Lake County, the first county to role out the new format) that give property owners a clearer understanding of their assessments and recourse if they wish to appeal.

CAP will be celebrating the passage of SB0207 on Monday, September 21st at 7PM at Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake as part of "Understanding Your Tax Bill," a moderated discussion with Lake County Chief Assessor Martin Paulson, James Glogovsky of the Tax Extension Office, and Andrew Searle, Fremont School District 79 Business Manager.

###

Contact:
Steve Minsky
Citizens Action Project
nutrocon@aol.com
847-509-1336

Lake Co. property assessments coming soon


Lake County property owners will receive redesigned assessment notices starting next week. Gone are the familiar blue postcards. Instead, the information will be presented on blue, letter-sized paper and contain more information about the property, the assessment process and where tax dollars go after checks are written.

"We want people to understand who's getting what," said Marty Paulson, the county's chief assessment officer. "Taxpayers need to start understanding that a little better." About 273,000 of the annual notices will be mailed gradually through November. Every property owner will get one, not merely people whose land value has been reassessed.

The notice's new look was partially prompted by state legislation designed to make the assessment process clearer. It was signed into law Tuesday and is effective statewide next year, Paulson said. Lake County officials began work on the redesign last year, however. Paulson said, long before the legislation was approved. "We pretty much knew it was coming," he said of the law.

The new forms include a lot more information than the old cards. One new box lists characteristics about the property, such as the size of a house and the year it was built. If that data is incorrect, Paulson said, a property owner should call their township assessor. The forms also have information about homestead exemptions and contact information for township officials, including e-mail addresses.

Although assessments help determine your property-tax bill, these notices are not tax bills. In Lake County, those statements go out every May and are due in two installments. County officials want to remind people that property values aren't necessarily decreasing because of the current recession and slumping housing market. Assessors use three years of data to determine assessed values, which are different from home values, county spokeswoman Jennie Khoen explained. The new assessments are based on property sales from 2006, 2007 and 2008. Next year's property-tax bills could reflect the housing market's dive, Paulson said.

To learn more about the assessment process, visit lakecountyil.gov. The Web site will have answers to frequently asked questions, links to videos, a guide to reading an assessment notice and other information. You can also call Paulson's office at (847) 377-3050.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=312204