Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Statement from 5 Lake County Assessors

We obtained a statement from the Lake County Township Assessors who filed a suit in Federal Court against Lake County, County Assessor Martin Paulson, County Treasurer David Stolman, and other county officials.

The statement is intended as a "response to comments made by a Lake County representative pertaining to township equalization and the federal lawsuit."

Annual township assessor equalization is not against the law as recently stated by a Lake County representative. In fact, it is encouraged by the Illinois Department of Revenue to establish an equitable and uniform spread of the real estate tax burden within a township and done by the majority of townships in the state without interference from their County Assessor. This was also the case in Lake County until 2016. When the County Assessor decided to prohibit changes, the assessors took their issues with him to the Lake County Board, who appoints the County Assessor, and to the Lake County States Attorney office, submitted supporting documentation for months to help them understand our position and did not file a lawsuit until nearly a year had passed. The Lake County State’s attorney confirmed that township assessors can equalize per the law and when they did and turned their books in to the County assessor he arbitrarily removed all of our work and applied across-the-board factors to all townships. After this was done, a lawsuit was filed in federal court.

The township assessors contend that by reversing all equalization they did, the county assessor is creating an inequitable spread of the real estate tax burden. Based on sales studies done on all areas of their townships, the assessors see that not all areas in a township increase or decrease in value equally from one year to the next and therefore should not be lumped together with an across-the-board factor established without input from the township assessors who actually value the properties. This method of “county assessor only” equalization does not establish uniformity – it has the opposite effect.

Lake County township assessors who equalize assessments annually do have the statutory authority to do so. Per Illinois statutes, the township assessor, county supervisor of assessments and the Illinois Dept. of Revenue may all equalize assessments annually. Illinois property tax law states that all assessments must be reviewed every four years (quadrennial assessment year) by township assessors. However, this is the minimum for which property assessments must be reviewed, not the maximum.

The federal judge who dismissed the lawsuit stated in his opinion “the assessors plaintiffs have not alleged that they are personally injured by any of the defendants’ actions.” The judge furthered stated “thus, if defendants’ actions have harmed anyone, it would be the taxpayers, who might end up paying an increased tax”. The judge also opined that the “taxpayer plaintiffs must bring their claims in state court” (rather than federal court.)

Equity of assessments is a major concern of township assessors because it creates a more fair spread of the real estate tax burden among property owners.

Gary Raupp, Vernon Township Assessor
Jeri Barr, Grant Township Assessor
Becci Tonigan, Cuba Township Assessor
Peggy Freese, Libertyville Township Assessor
John Barrington, Ela Township Assessor
# # # #


Anonymous said...

Yes, assessors violated state laws. No sh!t. This begs the question of why the he77 did the politicos waste more resources by intentionally filing in federal court, rather than a state court?

Grant Township is corrupt said...

Is this really how Grant Twsp. Ass. Barr feels, that the county's actions are illegal?

If so, why is Barr agreeing with the county's equalization numbers in the challenge hearings? Why does Barr make under the table deals with the same county officials she has been suing?

Barr is a perfect example of a liar and a cheat.

brian cohan said...

Be that as it may, there is a solid consensus among my neighbors that we are getting raped. Whether you had the authority to "equalize" or not I'm sure is an enthralling legal issue but the fact remains that most if not all in my neighborhood has seen a steady 5% march upward in the actual bill despite the fact that actual values are spiraling down, in no doubt at least in large due to the confiscatory property tax situation. I can hear the usual assessor response now "We don't set the levy or the rates"...a virtual "3 card Monty". Ultimately all sane individuals will just pick up and leave. I believe we lead the nation in that sorry stat.

Anonymous said...

No tax payer cares if the actual Assessor is township or county. Tax payers just want honesty, accuracy, and hopefully someone local to make sure that's all done correctly. Too often these idiots who get into Office feel they are untouchable and that is why they are corrupt. Start holding them personally accountable for fraudulent assessments and abuse of power and watch all this garbage stop.

Anonymous said...

Brian, Since it's a zero sum game with a tax levy, you (the un-connected tax payer) get to flip the bill for any Assessor's bogus assessments where the connected individual gets favors. Eye on Lake County has run articles exposing this abuse of power where the Lake County State's Attorney has turned a blind eye to the issue. Until the criminals in Office are prosecuted, just keep signing those checks.

Anonymous said...

Remember when Avon Township's Assessor closed his office for six months and fired his staff over a budget dispute with the township.... a budget dispute he lost! Well that "its all about me" assessor just got re-elected. He ran unopposed. He was censured by the Board and then asked to resign by residents. The residents turned their back and in a less than 6% voter turnout in the township, he's got another term.
Clearly township assessors march to a different drum. Senator Bush introduced SB 909 which is a pilot program to consolidate Lake County Assessors into the county. Please call her and offer you support and if she is not your State Senator call you own and ask them to support SB 909. Then call your State Reps, especially Rep Yingling. Yingling has introduced numerous pieces of legislation that rids or consolidates townships. Since the Avon Assessor was hand selected by him back in 2011, let's see how Yingling feels about SB 909.

Anonymous said...

A majority of people have NO CLUE how assessments work. A number is not just pulled out of the air; each and every sale is looked at. I personally want my home worth to finally gain some value, this is my biggest investment. How is it, Marty Paulson, the appointed Chief County Assessor who has been in office for nearly 27 years just decided that in 2016 it was illegal for assessor’s to revalue homes? It wasn’t illegal for the past 26 years under his regime. If the assessor didn’t lower the assessments when the housing market crashed you would have seen some rioting, but they were able to do their jobs back then. Now that the housing values are starting to go up again slowly, the Chief decided to throw a blanket increase on every township across the board in Lake County. If you really think that removing assessors is going to help you get lower taxes, you are not smarter than a first grader.

Anonymous said...

The county assessor did that study a few years ago and said he could save $4 million by getting rid of all the local assessors. That's around $10 on a $8,000 tax bill. The interesting part is the money was saved by also getting rid of the 18 offices spread around the county and would force everyone to drive to Waukegan for help instead of going a few miles down the road. The new system would be run by the APPOINTED county assessor Martin Paulson. The county board said the study was understaffed and would have to include the cost of satellite offices, which would eliminate any savings. The whole thing is a POWER GRAB and a TAX DOLLAR grab so the county has more power and more of your money. Good luck getting any help or services from the new mega assessment office. Try calling Cook County and see how that mega office works....