Oak Park's tax burden may shift to commercial properties

Apartment, business real estate saw gains in value recently


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

With Oak Park apartment buildings and commercial properties increasing in value, the property tax burden may be shifting away from residential properties.

The median assessed value of apartment buildings with seven units or more surged by 58 percent the last three years and 47 percent for commercial properties during the same period. With residential properties dropping in median assessed value by 10 percent the past three years, Township Assessor Ali ElSaffar said the property tax burden may be shifting more toward commercial properties.

He cautioned, though, that the numbers can change as property owners are still filing for appeals. Commercial buildings are sold far less frequently, and it can be harder for the county assessor to determine their value, compared to the more numerous home sales that happen each month.

"It's just hard to value these things, and that's why we have the appeal process, to get more exacting information," he said.

So it's possible that no burden shift will occur if commercial property owners are successful in filing appeals. ElSaffar also noted that a drop in assessed values for residential properties doesn't mean a corresponding drop in your property tax bill.

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 in April, while much of the rest comes from normal increases in government spending.

A shift toward the commercial side would reverse the trend from the past decade, when homes surged in value and assumed a larger share of the property tax pie. Over the past decade, homeowners have gone from shouldering about 69.6 percent of the tax burden, to about 80.8 percent, according to ElSaffar.

But if the shift away from homes does hold up after appeals, it's possible that more of the increased taxes will fall on business properties, providing some relief to homeowners.

"If you're a homeowner, you don't want to celebrate the shifting in the tax burden prematurely," ElSaffar said. "One thing I can say with a fair amount of certainty: You're not going to see much of an increase in the tax burden for a homeowner."

Oak Parkers have until June 24 to appeal their assessments. Call ElSaffar's office at 708-383-8005 to schedule an appointment.

Reader Comments

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Joel Schoenmeyer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 11th, 2011 5:53 PM

One solution to Oak Park's revenue problem would be to get the numerous village-owned properties added to the tax rolls by selling them. Back in December of 2006, the Journal printed a list of those properties (there were 15 of them). I wonder what the number is now? And how much revenue they'd bring in if sold to the highest bidder?

Walt Keneipp from Oak Park  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 7:56 AM

The real stroy is not how the percentage of the tax burden is shifting, but that we are paying 7% more taxes this year overall. How many people got a 7% raise? Kudos to Salzman, Tucker and Hedges for trying to hold the line. Many of us voted for the D97 referendum because we thought it was needed, that doesn't mean that we need to pave the streets in gold...or heated granite.


Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:18 AM

Looks like rents are about to climb....

Fred Tamburino from Oak Park   

Posted: June 9th, 2011 10:00 PM

Have the health deptment write more tickets for stupid infractions that havenothing to do w public safety,

Unbalanced by Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 9:39 PM

All the stats quoted by Ali mean very little in the real world. Your house is worth $700,000. My little office building is also worth $700,000. Why is the real estate tax on my building about four times higher than the tax on your house? This imbalance is killing the owners of small commercial properties. Solve this problem and you can be elected governor - for at least one term.

Sure from OP  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 6:49 PM

Ali is wrong. Emtpy store fronts don't pay taxes. Empty condos don't, empty apartments don't. With D97 referndum and park district levy up 400% your taxes are going through the roof next year...that means businesses leave and you make up the difference. Joke Park, and good old Ali, hiring more staff to increase his power base. Disgusting.

Gary Belenke from Oak Park  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 2:31 PM

Unfortunately, as long as we depend so heavily in Illinois on property taxes, their impact on all forms of real estate will be excessive. If residential and commercial rents do not increase as taxes increase, how will the owners pay the difference? We need a fairer tax system with smaller bites taken out of a broader universe of tax payers.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 2:03 PM

Just Say Yes

Average Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 2:00 PM

Just to be on the safe side, can we raise our property taxes again?

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