Oak Parker Mary Minarik, 57, got a jolt Monday when she opened her property tax bill, which was 11 percent — or $1,000 — bigger than the previous year.

The uptick leaves her and her husband paying $8,200 a year on an 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath bungalow.

“I’m thinking I’m going to have to work a little extra,” Minarik said by phone Tuesday morning with a chuckle. “That’s the reality.”

Cook County started mailing the second installment of property tax bills this week, for the 2010 property taxes that are paid in 2011. This go-around is the first to reflect elementary school District 97’s referendum, which was passed by about 54 percent of voters in April. Those 6,067 voters gave the schools about $6 million extra each year, to stave off cuts and invest in school facilities and technology.

Oak Park taxpayers should see a minimum 4.5-percent increase to their property tax bills compared to the previous year, though on average most will see a 9-percent uptick, according to Ali ElSaffar, the Oak Park Township assessor.

The referendum was expected to add about 3.75 percent to each homeowner’s tax bill, or $37.50 per $1,000, according to ElSaffar. But most Oak Parkers are seeing more sizeable increases for various reasons. The eight other major taxing bodies levying property taxes are also asking for more this year, including a 6.25-percent increase from village hall and 7.74 percent from the county.

“The numbers everybody was talking about during the referendum campaign have turned out to be pretty much on the money,” ElSaffar said, later adding, “but the school district is one out of a whole bunch of them.”

In addition, the homeowner exemption, which residents receive as an incentive to occupy houses they own, is decreasing. That’s because the state legislature approved a plan to start phasing out the exemption, to help shift the burden away from commercial properties. Now, the maximum exemption someone can receive is $385 less than it was before, on top of the bigger tax bill. This is year two of a four-year plan to phase out the exemption.

This marks the biggest property tax increase for Oak Parkers since the 2005 taxes, which were paid in 2006. That’s when residents received bills that were about 12.9 percent higher, because of a park district referendum and the second phase of Oak Park and River Forest High School’s referendum.

Overall, Oak Park’s total tax levy is 7.18 percent higher compared to 2011, or $163.6 million total.

Meanwhile, in River Forest, the property tax levy is leaping by 12.2 percent, up to $54.2 million, year over year. But that’s because this is the first year that money from River Forest’s tax increment financing district is being dispersed to local taxing bodies after it was just closed out, ElSaffar said.

Without the TIF change factored in, the levy would only be going up by about 2.4 percent. Businesses will not see a property tax increase, while homeowners will pay more because of the decreasing homeowner exemption. The owner of a $750,000 house would pay about 2.5 percent more in taxes, while the owner of a $250,000 home would pay about 9.6 percent more, ElSaffar said.

The payment deadline for tax bills is Nov. 1. Those in Oak Park who have questions can call to make an appointment with ElSaffar’s office at 708-383-8005. River Forest residents can direct questions to River Forest Township Assessor Pamela Kende at 708-366-2787.

Oak Park Village Trustee Ray Johnson, who campaigned on a platform of easing the tax burden and encouraging intergovernmental cooperation, said he saw the taxes on his condo go up by 30 percent last year. He said representatives from local taxing bodies hope to meet soon, to discuss ways to collaborate and ease the burden, with upcoming teacher contracts being a major topic.

“I can completely empathize with people. In the midst of a recession, in my own situation, to have a 30 percent increase in my property taxes, that was a big bite,” he said. “And the way the tax process works in Cook County is archaic and does not help the situation or help people understand why these shifting tax burdens continue to happen.”

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