Rental Property Tax Relief on the Horizon in Cook County - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Rental Property Tax Relief on the Horizon in Cook County

On Feb. 15, 2006, the Cook County Board voted in support of Assessor James Houlihan’s proposal for a 6 percent reduction in apartment assessments levels for Class 3 multifamily properties.

Many understand, and Cook County Board President John Stroger agrees, that the county’s current property tax system -- where multi-family buildings are assessed over 62 percent higher than single-family residential properties -- is in desperate need of an overhaul. The Cook County Board took an important step towards alleviating the disparate tax burden on apartment owners and renters in the county by passing Assessor Houlihan’s proposal to lower the assessment level for Class 3 properties from 26 percent to 20 percent.

With a 27 percent loss of apartment buildings and a 52 percent gain in condominiums from 1994 to 2003, Cook County is hemorrhaging rental options. This has serious implications for low-income and working-class families who can not afford to purchase a home, employers needing a strong local workforce, and seniors who do not want to leave their communities when they are no longer able to maintain or afford to own their home. While many municipal leaders are attempting to provide more housing options, they are quickly finding that both building new affordable homes, especially rental property, and preserving and rehabilitating the existing stock is very difficult due to land prices and property taxes. Consistent with efforts by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Housing Task Force and the State of Illinois’ Comprehensive Housing Plan, this amendment to the Real Property Assessment Classification Ordinance will improve housing options in Cook County, particularly for those families whose only option is to rent.

This amendment will phase in this reduction for Class 3, lowering the assessment from 26 to 24 percent in 2006, to 22 percent in 2007, and to 20 percent in 2008. Several organizations and individuals came to testify in support of this proposal, including the Metropolitan Planning Council , Chicago Rehab Network, Chicagoland Apartment Association, Community Investment Corporation, Evanston Ald. Edmund B. Moran , and Chicago Community Development Corporation. While Cook County and the Chicago region are still in need of relief from the state’s over reliance on property taxes to fund public schools, this proposal creates more of a level playing field for all county tax payers.

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