Report: Oak Park among highest tax rates in 2015

Civic Federation puts village at fourth highest for residential among cities studied

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

While many communities in Cook County saw their effective residential property tax rates drop in 2015, three municipalities of the dozen studied by the nonprofit Civic Federation experienced increases – and Oak Park was one of them.

Oak Park also was identified in the study as having the fourth highest residential effective property tax rate – at 2.96 percent – of those communities in 2015, according to the report released in early January. That's behind Elgin at 3.11 percent, Chicago Heights at 5.42 percent and Harvey at 6.9 percent.

But what is an effective residential property tax rate?

The Civic Federation, a non-partisan research organization, describes it as "an estimate of the percentage of a property's full market value owed in property taxes during a given year."

It uses the median level of assessment on properties within a geographical area to estimate the property taxes due on any given property.

Civic Federation executive director Laurence Msall said his organization uses the metric to create an apples-to-apples comparison of the tax burden between communities.

"For example, if you were a condo owner in Oak Park and had a $6,000 tax liability and you thought your condo was worth $300,000, you would have an effective tax rate of 2 percent," Msall said in a telephone interview. Msall is an Oak Park resident.

The report also shows that the effective residential property tax rate in Oak Park increased 1.6 percent between 2014 and 2015 and 37.7 percent from 2006.

That represents the third slowest rate increase for that nine-year period of the dozen communities studied, just behind Chicago at 27.9 percent and Evanston at 27.8 percent.

The two fastest growing effective residential property tax rates of the communities studied from 2006 to 2015 were Chicago Heights at 112.1 percent and Harvey at 117.6 percent, according to the report.

"So Oak Park, of all the communities that we singled out in Cook County, is not at the lowest but it's also not at the highest," Msall said. "It's certainly not as bad as Chicago Heights, which is in crisis."

The effective commercial property tax rate in Oak Park also experienced a dramatic increase over the nine-year period studied, more than doubling from 4.49 percent in 2006 to 9.26 percent in 2015.

It was the third highest of the dozen communities studied, trailing behind Chicago Heights at 13.96 percent in 2015 and Harvey at 17.84 percent. Evanston, a community often used as a point of comparison for Oak Park, increased its commercial rate 87.7 percent over the nine-year period, increasing from 3.34 percent in 2006 to 6.27 percent in 2015.

While the study can be a good metric for determining how much your tax bill might be in various communities, Oak Park Township Assessor Ali ElSaffar said another thing to consider when looking at the number is the value of the homes in the municipalities studied.

"A house worth $100,000 in Oak Park is going to be different from a house worth $100,000 in Chicago Heights and Barrington," he said. "You probably don't get a whole lot of house for $100,000 in Oak Park."

He noted that the split in the tax burden between commercial and residential also plays a role from community to community. Communities with large shopping malls, for instance, will have a lower residential property tax burden because the commercial is covering more of the bill.

ElSaffar said residential property in Oak Park – single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and 2- to 6-flats – make up 80.7 percent of the tax base.

"Multi-family buildings of seven units or more comprise 5.9 percent of the tax base, with 12.7 percent for commercial property and 0.4% for industrial property," ElSaffar said in an email.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 10:14 AM

17,400 people in Oak Park voted down the D200 referendum. It has happened and it will happen again. There is a base of people that is large and able to stop the madness. If you think taxes are too high, talk about it to everyone. Tell your neighbors how you feel. And you have to vote NO every time, because they schedule the votes during the least interesting general elections to insure low turnouts.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 21st, 2018 10:24 PM

Well Dave, easy to say now. Wait until the PDOP comes back with their latest and greatest multimillion dollar "community center" that we desperately need. And the Imagine Group will be coming back with their shiny new multimillion dollar proposal for D200 that we desperately need because after all it's (as usual) "...for the kids." And then of course there will be the inevitable D97 referendum sometime in Oh .. I don't know... 2020 perhaps. And no doubt all of these taxing bodies will make strong worthwhile arguments of why we need what they say they do. Batten down the hatches. The storm is coming. Talk is cheap.

Dave Miller  

Posted: January 21st, 2018 1:18 PM

It's not only time for Oak Park to halt tax increases, it's time tp cut taxes. Oak Park needs to figure out how to smartly spend less instead of continuing asking for more as if everyone has an endless supply of money to spend on wants instead of needs.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 20th, 2018 7:54 AM

If you thought it was high taxes in 2015, rest assured that our elected officials are going for the world record in 2017.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2018 8:32 AM

When I moved in annual taxes were .8% of value. Now at 2.96% the rate has almost quadrupled.

Terry Stanton  

Posted: January 17th, 2018 9:14 PM

It's out of control.

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