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Zalewski denies he’s trying to kill Kaegi’s bill

Thursday, May 9, 2019

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

A bill that would give the Cook County Assessor’s office — and other offices statewide — the ability to collect operating income and expense data from commercial properties ran into road blocks in the House this week, with members doubting the efficacy of the bill after opposition from powerful real estate interests surfaced.

Kaegi, who has been working on the bill since the summer, months before officially being sworn in as assessor, says SB 1379 will lead to more accurate assessments by giving his office — and county assessors statewide — as much income and leasing data as possible directly from property owners, rather than relying on third-party data.

But business interests have lined up against the bill, including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. […]

State Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) told The Daily Line Wednesday that he still has a lot of questions for Kaegi, especially given the district he represents, which overlaps both the southeastern-most part Chicago and stretches down to south suburban Calumet City and Lynwood, which border Indiana.

Kaegi said his bill is designed to help stabilize property taxes in areas like the struggling south suburbs by giving him more information to assess commercial properties at their true valuation.

* Tribune editorial

On Thursday, the House Revenue Committee is scheduled to consider a bill that would require certain income-producing properties to disclose their revenues and expenses to the assessor’s office. But Kaegi told us Wednesday afternoon that, rather than advancing his measure to the House floor, the committee may send the legislation to its doom in a subcommittee. “All we want is a vote in committee,” Kaegi told us. “We have the votes to pass it. Will they give us the chance?”

The “they” is House Democrats. Killing this reform would give them a mighty bad look: Speaker Michael Madigan’s law firm profits handsomely from tax appeals, which could become fewer in number if Kaegi’s bill becomes law. And committee Chairman Mike Zalewski hails from west suburban Riverside, a hotbed of animosity toward the property tax system.

The point of Kaegi’s call for more financial information is to allow his office to more accurately calculate a building’s value. Smaller properties would be exempt, including commercial properties valued at less than $400,000, and residential properties with six or fewer units or those valued at less than $1 million. Owners of bigger, more valuable properties already are required to disclose this information at the second level of tax appeals. Kaegi’s proposal merely advances that disclosure.

More accurate assessments should mean fewer tax appeals — and less likelihood that commercial properties will be underassessed.

Do Madigan and Zalewski want to be the Democratic leaders who repudiate Cook County voters eager for property tax reforms? Come Thursday, we’ll see.

Like with the thundering pension editorial this week which the paper deleted and replaced with another one after the governor said he was canceling the pension holiday, I think that editorial may have jumped the gun. After some fears earlier in the day, Kaegi told me late yesterday afternoon that he was assured the bill wouldn’t be sent to subcommittee and that conversations would continue.

* From Rep. Zalewski…

I strongly support Assessor Kaegi’s vision for a transparent, fair commercial assessment system. I’ve spent the Spring meeting with Assessor Kaegi, Assistant Majority Leader Will Davis and his team to fully understand his legislation, and to work to build a bridge between Assessor Kaegi’s mission and the concerns raised by opponents.

We intend to continue the progress we have made on the issue. We have more than three weeks left in the spring legislative session to accomplish the Assessor Kaegi’s goal, and I am committed to working with the Assessor, Leader Davis and Chairperson Hutchinson and stakeholders to find the right path forward. We are all committed to making property taxes more transparent and less costly in Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 9, 19 @ 9:17 am:

    –I think that editorial may have jumped the gun.–

    Usually there’s so thoughtful, sober and rational….

  2. - Annonin' - Thursday, May 9, 19 @ 9:23 am:

    Gosh one might think the Tribbies would check their doomsday reports before hittin’ the publishin’ button. GovJunk would still be proud. Too bad nobody cares what falls out of Tribbie clown car anymore

  3. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, May 9, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    You can’t assess a building without the right information. I wonder why Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the National Federation of Independent Business wouldn’t want the assessor to have accurate information?

  4. - qualified someone nobody sent - Thursday, May 9, 19 @ 4:04 pm:

    Kaegi has already raised industrial/commercial assessments on average about 80% in the Northern suburbs currently in reassessment. Maine Township just got a 10% shift of total assessed value from residential to I/C properties between 2018 and 2019 (pre appeals). Evanston township was even worse.

  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 9, 19 @ 4:17 pm:

    ===Kaegi has already raised industrial/commercial assessments===

    That was his entire campaign. And he won overwhelmingly.

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