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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.