Residential properties in Oak Park will see a 7 percent drop in their assessed values, the Cook County assessor announced July 2. But the unusual trend won’t have a huge impact on property tax bills.

The assessor started mailing out notices of the reduction to residents earlier this month. The effect won’t be seen until the second installment of property taxes in 2010.

Back in May, the county assessor said 30 suburban townships would receive reductions to their assessed values, an unprecedented move that would adjust home values to reflect the downturn in the housing market. River Forest and Cicero townships were announced first, getting 5 percent and 15 percent reductions to their assessed values, respectively.

“The situation we are facing in the real estate market is extraordinary, and the downturn has had an impact on home values,” Cook County Assessor James Houlihan said in a press release. “After analysis of market sales and foreclosure data, we determined that Oak Park Township homeowners should not have to wait until their properties are reassessed next in 2011 for the downturn to be reflected in their assessments.”

The 7 percent decrease will only affect single-family homes, condos and apartment buildings of six units or less.

Ali ElSaffar, Oak Park Township assessor and president of the Cook County Assessors Association, said the 7 percent decrease won’t equate to an equal dip in property taxes.

A property tax bill is like a tab at a bar, and with government bodies still requesting the same levy amounts, the bill just has to be divided a different way. This could result in a slight shift of the burden to commercial, industrial or larger apartment properties, which account for 20 percent of the tax base.

“It’s not as great as people might think because ultimately the government says how much it wants, and the assessor has to divvy it up among all the properties,” ElSaffar said.

The 7 percent number was calculated based on home sales in Oak Park after Jan. 1, 2008. Data showed that the median home sale price in Oak Park was 7 percent lower than the values set at the last reassessment of Oak Park, ElSaffar said.

Property owners most likely to see reductions in their tax bills are those who have purchased since 2006, new construction, homes least affected by the housing boom and properties that don’t get a homeowner exemption.

Oak Park homeowners who believe they should be receiving more than a 7 percent reduction can appeal to the county assessor’s office until Aug. 3. Call Oak Park Township at 708-383-8005 to set up an appointment during the appeals period.


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