Alan Zielinski Running for Grafton Township Assessor

Alan Zielinski spoke at the last Grafton Township Annual Meeting.

Incumbent Grafton Township Assessor Bill Ottley told me he was running for re-election a couple of months ago.

Now, he has an opponent named Alan Zielinski. His press release is below:

Alan Zielinski Announces Candidacy for Grafton Township Assessor

Lakewood – Property owners can look forward to more accurate and, therefore more fair, assessments when Alan Zielinski wins election as Grafton Township Assessor in the April 2013 election.

“I’ve seen too many taxpayers treated unfairly by a broken system and decided it was going beyond helping them as an appraiser,” said Zielinski.

Property taxes are the main expense of most households and a fair allocation of the tax burden is Zielinski’s primary concern.

“My appraisal experience, coupled with my business perspective and moral compass, will help taxpayers get a fair shake each and every year.  Working together, we can achieve my goal of zero appeals by the end of my second term.”

In addition to improving the accuracy of assessments, Zielinski intends to champion legislation in Illinois similar to Georgia’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights which carries two significant benefits for property owners:

  • being awarded legal fees if their appeal prevails in court and
  • that Boards of Review must provide specific grounds for their rejections of property owners’ appeals

An illustration on Al Zielinski’s web site.

Zielinski’s qualifications include the following:

  • Certified Illinois Assessing Officer
  • Illinois and Wisconsin Certified Real Estate Appraiser
  • B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University
  • MBA from Michigan State University
  • More than a decade of residential, commercial and industrial appraisals in Illinois

In addition to education and highly-refined analytical perspective, Alan also has a heart as evidenced by one of his campaign promises:

“10% of my gross salary to the Grafton Food Pantry.”

In his own words:  “Government service is about service, not building wealth. My promise will stay in effect at least through my first term until times really improve for everyone.”

His web site can be found here.  His business web site can be found here.

His web site contains the following statement:

My last decade was focused on business and real property valuation. You can learn more by visiting our web site:

79% of Grafton Township’s parcels are residential. Who better to determine their true value than someone certified by Illinois and Wisconsin to appraise (not just assess) residential property?

Here’s how he answers the question, “Why vote for Al for assessor?

  • His personal & professional qualifications.
  • His sense of civic duty.
  • He’s a number-cruncher with a heart.
  • An engineer who stick-built his first house and knows his way around construction sites.

My education and experience, coupled with your trust and involvement, will make sure the number that appears on your annual property tax bill is as close as possible to its fair cash value. You’ll sleep more soundly knowing you’re paying only your fair share.

Here’s what Zielinski says about “Ethics and Empathy:”

I promise to earn your trust by listening carefully and never, ever lying. Candor and mutual respect are the foundation of all my personal and professional relationships.

The difference between sympathy and empathy is the latter can only be gained through personal experience.

I’ve experienced good times and hard times as many of you have and have learned to count and be thankful for my blessings versus cursing being “shortchanged.”

I promise to always treat you with respect regardless of your current state in life.

Zielinski’s promises can be found here.


Alan Zielinski Running for Grafton Township Assessor — 12 Comments

  1. ZERO appeals is not possible, nor would you want it to be.

    Have you seen what the county has done to our proerty tax bills?

    5.31% assessment increases because they said Assessor Ottley was too aggressive with his reductions?

    Yet property values are still above all the foreclosures and sales we have in our market.

    You may be able to appraise one home at a time, but you need to handle over 20,000 in Grafton Township.

    Mr. Ottley has been at it a while, and has been a true defender for the tax payers of Grafton Township.

    My questions: Do you have any experience working in an Assessors Office at any level?

    Have you ever had to assess commercial properties before?

    Have you ever attended an assessment appeal hearing with the Board of Review?

    How about the Property Tax Appeal Board for the state?

    Any experience there?

    I think Mr. Ottley has about 20 years worth of experience and a proven track record of fighting for tax payers!

  2. Thank you for allowing me to address (and hopefully resolve) your concerns.

    Creative, far-reaching ideas are often believed to be unattainable, e.g., who thought we’d put a man on the Moon within a decade or land a vehicle on Mars?

    Zero appeals are realistic and attainable if property owners believe they are being treated fairly.

    With that mindset, what motivation would there be to appeal?

    Do you have any experience working in an Assessors Office at any level?

    No, but that’s part of my benefit: bringing a fresh perspective based on 40 years of business.

    That benefit is enhanced with 10 years of real property valuation and almost 20 years of comprehensive valuation experience which includes 9-figure mergers & acquisitions, new venture financing and small business turnarounds.

    Have you ever had to assess commercial properties before?

    Yes, and appraised them as well.

    Just settled a case with a Lake County township on a multi-million dollar assessed parcel: that assessor (also an appraiser) and I reached consensus avoiding an appeal.


    It can be done!

    Industrial, residential, vacant land and highly-complex properties (Lake Geneva waterfront, etc.) are all within my competency.

    Have you ever attended an assessment appeal hearing with the Board of Review?

    Numerous in Lake, Kane and McHenry counties as well as southern Wisconsin.

    Several positive interactions with the McHenry Board of Review formed the basis for my compliment to them on the home page of my web site.

    The appeal steps I outlined there provide further evidence of my experience.

    How about the Property Tax Appeal Board for the state? Any experience there?

    Yes. The sad and painful differences to taxpayers are

    (a) they take two hears to reach the hearing level (my clients have almost 20 PTAB appeal dockets in the queue now) and

    (b) those hearings are de novo so the assessor’s and/or county’s “sins of the past” are not allowed to be brought into evidence as prior bad acts.

    Both are issues I would fight to change and include in my proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights if elected.

  3. I remember Mr. Zielinski from the annual meeting – he seemed self-important and condescending.

    Ottley has done a fine job to the best of my knowledge.

    In this case I’ll vote for the status quo.

  4. My comments at the Special Meeting were consistent with my campaign: expressing genuine concern for Grafton Township taxpayers, requesting civility, focusing on data versus emotion and wisely using our tax dollars.

    Maintaining the status quo forfeits numerous taxpayer benefits resulting from my achievable innovations:

    • zero appeals,
    • Taxpayer Bill of Rights,
    • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice compliance, etc.

  5. My guess is that as an appraiser in the current real estate market….you need a steady pay check.

    I remember seeing you talking very buddy, buddy with Linda Moore at the Annual Meeting.


    Bill Ottley gets my vote!

  6. Grafton residents have had their fill of acrimony so I requested civility at the Special Meeting and spoke in that tone. That professionalism continues by my running a clean, courteous campaign.

    In that same context, all postings here and elsewhere have been personally made by me, never by unnamed surrogates. I personally wrote the press release announcing my candidacy and created my own web site. It’s important that voters see the candidate as deeply and in as many varied lights as possible.

    Grafton residents have also had their fill of partial truths so my campaign will correct misrepresentations with clearly-cited data sources. I never said a single word to Ms. Moore at the Special Meeting. If you have proof to the contrary, please provide it.

    Competent appraisers always have plenty of work regardless of the real estate market because our opinions are sought beyond the mortgage industry. My clients includes attorneys for estates and divorces, appraisal reviews, expert witness testimony, employee relocation, home improvement guidance, federal, state and property tax issues, etc.

    The core of my campaign is bringing a courteous, qualified and professional presence to the assessor’s office. Beyond that are innovative, taxpayer-centric ideas like a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

    Finally, I promise to save taxpayer’s money by reducing the bloated, recently approved assessor’s budget of almost $576,000!. (Source: Grafton Township Special Board Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2012.)

  7. Mr. Zielinski,

    If your business is going as well as you state above, how do you plan to “Do both Jobs?”

    I don’t want to pay for a part-time assessor who is just looking to collect a tax payer salary and pension.

    Please respond.

  8. My purpose in seeking office is to give something (a lot, actually) back to this country.

    My campaign is based on service: making sure every penny of property tax is justified and in full compliance with Illinois statutes.

    When elected, serving Grafton Township residents as their assessor will be my full-time job.

    That has always been my intent and I don’t believe I’ve ever communicated anything to the contrary.

    As evidence of my focus on service, one of my campaign promises is to donate 10% of my gross salary to the Grafton Food Pantry.

  9. So you plan to keep your appraisal business running as well?

    How will you handle any opportunities of conflict of interest?

    Also – the taxing bodies set the taxes.

    How can an assessor “make sure every penny is justified and in compliance with statutes?”

    An assessor can only make sure people pay a fair share, but that is the extent of it, or are you proposing to change those laws as well?

    As for donating 10% to the food pantry, that is a nice gesture, but I don’t want to vote for someone because they promise to give away money for a personal tax deduction.

    I would rather you accept a lower salary to keep some more of us from needing to stand in the food pantry line in the first place.

    Everyone running for office could just try to do one better – I’ll donate 12%, I’ll donate 15%.

    SAVE ME MONEY, don’t give away yours in an attempt to buy my vote.

    If you do donate your money, great, but don’t use that to try to win.

    Win on merit, or don’t run.

    If you are the best option, you shouldn’t have to BUY my vote with a campaign promise.

    If you are that good hearted and well off, donate it now, regardless of the election outcome.

    Either way, that is between you and the food pantry, and voters don’t need to know.

    It is not important to the office and position you are trying to win.

    I personally think this is the wrong way to “earn” or “buy” a vote.

    I am very concerned about you having two jobs, when one of them is running your own business.

    I have tried to do this in the past, and you can never do either job to the best of your ability.

    They ALWAYS distract from each other.

  10. “When elected, serving Grafton Township residents as their assessor will be my full-time job.”
    Don’t know how I can be more clear.

    “How can an assessor “make sure every penny is justified and in compliance with statutes?” ”
    Taxes are directly related to the county’s equalized assessed value.
    By making sure the township’s EAV is accurate, I fulfill my promise.

    “…but I don’t want to vote for someone because they promise to give away money for a personal tax deduction.”
    I wouldn’t get any deduction so I’m not “buying” anything.
    The donation would be a direct transfer to the Grafton Food Pantry.
    That’s why I was careful to state “gross salary” in my promise.
    We agree that all elected officials should do likewise.

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