Over the past seven years, property tax bills have been due as early as Sept. 1 and as late as Dec. 3. This year will likely be later still.

A posting Wednesday on Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ Web site stated “We anticipate a due date of no earlier than November 16, 2009 for property tax bills for tax year 2008.” County clerk spokeswoman Courtney Greve, however, said the clerk’s office estimates a due date of Dec. 1.

Greve said last week that a record number of assessment appeals were filed with the board of review this year, which “slowed things down from the start.”

The clerk’s office also sent a letter to all taxing districts Sept. 23, including River Forest Township Assessor Pamela Kende, informing them of a mistake in the assessor’s calculations, in which 80,000 long-term homeowners were denied the appropriate exemption. The entire process then had to be restarted from that point.

The alternative, Kende said, was to issue 80,000 “certificates of error” to affected property owners.

River Forest village treasurer Chris Soriano, whose last day with the village was Friday, said the large number of property tax appeals is at the root of the problem.

“I haven’t even received the final tax levy edit report yet,” he said Thursday. That document is sent to all taxing districts to allow them to review the county’s figures and correct any errors in the assessor’s numbers before the bills are finalized and mailed out.

“It’s like a moving target to get the assessments pinned down,” said Soriano.

“The only tax rate that’s been published yet is the state equalizer,’ said Kende.

When the assessor’s office gets the tax levy edit reports back, it will calculate exemptions for various properties. The county clerk’s office then calculates the tax rates and asks local taxing districts to review preliminary reports and identify any problems. The county assessor has refigured the exemptions and the clerk’s office is now in the process of double checking its new rates. When that is done, the county treasurer’s office will print and mail the bills.

Officials in River Forest and Oak Park government say they are concerned but not overly worried about news that the receipt of local property tax bill revenues has been delayed.

Anthony Cozzi, District 90 school’s business manager said, “I’m concerned, but I can’t really comment until I run the numbers,” he said last week. He noted that property tax revenues were similarly delayed in December, 2007 (when the due date for tax bills was December 3). The school district managed to avoid borrowing then, and is in a stronger position now following a successful property tax referendum.

River Forest Village Administrator Steve Gutierrez said the village’s “depleted general fund was already a concern.” But while he’s watching the situation closely, he said the village should not need to borrow through tax anticipation bonds, saying, “I think we have adequate reserves in other (village) funds that we can borrow from.”

Mike Sletten, executive director of the River Forest park district, said the district had to utilize tax anticipation bonds to cover late 2006 tax receipts in 2007, but has now accumulated a reserve fund that will allow it to avoid any borrowing resulting from a delay.

The Park District of Oak Park is in even better shape. Karen Schindel, superintendent for business operations, said the delay was “annoying, but won’t affect the district.” Over the past several years, the park district has built up its reserves from 6.9 percent to 25.4 percent.

Due dates vary

Over the past seven years, county property tax bills have come due as early as Sept. 1 and as late as Dec. 3.

  • 2008
– Due Dec. 1 (tentative)
  • 2007 – Due Nov. 3
  • 2006 – Due Dec. 3
  • 2005 – Due Sept. 1
  • 2004 – Due Nov. 1
  • 2003 – Due Nov. 15
  • 2002 – Due Oct. 1
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