Impact on property assessments discussed
by BRIAN NADIG
The impact of the pandemic on property assessments was among the issues that Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi addressed in a July 9 virtual meeting with newspaper publishers.
Kaegi reported that a "COVID adjustment" is resulting in an eight to 12 percent decrease in the assessed valuation of single-family homes which were reassessed earlier this year in the south and west suburbs. Properties in the county are reassessed every 3 years, with Jefferson Township on the Northwest Side to be reassessed in 2021.
Kaegi announced last spring that his office would be making adjustments in response to the pandemic. He said that the economic and social problems associated with the pandemic would have a significant impact on property values and that he did not want to force property owners to go through an appeals process to seek appropriate adjustments.
Kaegi added that there could be declines of up to 30 percent for some commercial properties in the next few years as leases for office tenants come up for renewal. Some analysts are predicting that demand for office space could dip significantly as companies make temporary work-at-home orders permanent.
Other types of commercial properties that could experience a drop in value include hotels, restaurants and convention space, Kaegi said. Commercial tenants are expected to be seeking lower rents or other concessions from landlords, he said.
Also at the meeting, Kaegi said that changes in school funding would lessen the property tax burden on families, especially for Black and Latino households given that a higher amount of their wealth typically goes toward the cost of their home when compared to other groups.
Most of the property tax collected in the county goes to schools, including about 55 percent in Chicago and 67 percent in some suburbs, Kaegi said. On the national level the Democratic Party is pushing for a tripling of Title I (federal) funds for schools and that "will make a really big difference on (tax) levies," he said.
Studies have shown that in Cook County commercial properties tend to be undervalued when compared to residential properties, but Kaegi, who was elected in 2018, has said that he wants all properties to be assessed fairly.
In 2018 the assessed value of Evanston was 27.3 percent commercial and 72.7 residential, but after the 2019 reassessment the balance was 39.9 percent commercial and 60.1 percent residential.
However, the balanced shifted again after the independent Board of Review finished its appeals work, Kaegi said. The balance was then 31 percent commercial and 69 percent residential.
Kaegi spokesman Scott Smith said that the assessor’s office takes a "macro approach" when determining property values in a community while the review board is "more micro," as it examines individual appeals.
The meeting was held by Cook County Suburban Publishers.