As it does every three years, the Cook County Assessor's Office is mailing out notices this week, letting Oak Parkers know that their properties have been reassessed. The average residential property is expected to drop by 10 percent in assessed value in Oak Park, and 9 percent in River Forest. But don't expect a corresponding drop in your property tax bills.
In his first three-year reassessment since being elected, County Assessor Joe Berrios was expected to start mailing notices out to Oak Parkers on Tuesday. In Oak Park, assessed values — equal to about 10 percent of the market value — are dropping on average by 10 percent, said Ali ElSaffar, the Oak Park Township assessor.
But the total amount of property taxes being collected is going up by 6.5 percent — from $153 million to $163 million — in Oak Park. About $4 million of that change is attributable to District 97's referendum, which passed last month.
"It's easy to think, if my house is worth less, I pay less property taxes, but it doesn't work that way," ElSaffar said.
It's possible that some, who see a decrease greater than 10 percent in their assessed value, will see a slight drop in property taxes. Conversely, those whose assessed value drops by less than 10 percent may see a hike for 2011 property taxes, which are paid in 2012.
Meanwhile, ElSaffar estimates that the average assessment for residential properties will drop by 9 percent in River Forest. Township Assessor Pamela Kende could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Oak Parkers will have until June 24 to appeal their assessments, and they can call ElSaffar's office at 708-383-8005 to schedule an appointment. Since River Forest's notices went out earlier, residents have until June 13 to appeal, and can reach Kende at 708-366-2787. River Forest is also hosting a meeting on reassessments on June 1, 7 p.m., at the River Forest Community Center, 8020 W. Madison.
During the last reassessment in 2008, Oak Park saw some of the property tax burden shift to commercial buildings and apartments of seven units or more. But ElSaffar said he has yet to see reassessments for the commercial side, and appeals are yet to be filed, so it's too early to say if there will be a burden shift.
Regardless of where the burden falls, Oak Park taxing bodies will still get their $163 million in property taxes.
"As long as the cost of government keeps going up — which it always does — the taxes are essentially going to go up for the community at large," ElSaffar said.