District 97 has placed two referenda on the April 4 ballot. The operating referendum is the most expensive referendum in many years. Expect the cost to show up in the fall 2017 tax bills and many years thereafter. While many residents are still tightening their belts after the “great recession,” it appears that the D97 board believes the property tax pit remains bottomless. Everyone cares about our kids in D97. We also care about our senior citizens, our diversity, and maintaining a stable, thriving community. Property tax increases of this magnitude threaten our viability.

The chart shows the magnitude of their request by comparing the base property tax levy since 2006 to what will happen in 2017, should we approve this referendum. We can expect everyone’s 2016 tax bill (paid in 2017) to increase by about 9%. The magnitude of this referendum virtually assures that every landlord will have to raise their rents in order to remain solvent. If you’re a renter, expect your rents to increase 9-12%. 

During the first week in March, most property tax owners received a notice of the triennial reassessment from our County assessor. This proposed reassessment level basically defines your “piece of the action” for paying your fair share of the property tax burden for the next three years. However, it’s virtually impossible to interpret the impact of this reassessment on your property taxes because the Cook County assessor doesn’t tell you how your property value has changed relative to other similar properties. 

What we know is that our total tax levy will go up by 9%. What we don’t know is how many of us will pay the 9% and how many will end up paying 10% to 15% because their properties increased in value more than the average. The reverse is also true. Some group of property owners will be paying in the 4% to 9% range because their property values increased less than the community at large. It’s all very confusing until this reassessment shows up on our tax bills in 2018. The bottom line is that this referendum will increase virtually everyone’s property taxes. What’s hard to tell is the exact magnitude on any one property owner.

Nile Wendorf

Oak Park

Editor’s note: See Oak Park Township Assessor Ali ElSaffar’s analysis of the D97 referenda in today’s Homes section, page 26

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