This comment by Algonquin Township Assessor Bob Kunz appeared under an article about assessment appeals and it’s too good not to share more broadly:
We now deal with two competing standards of property-tax valuation, one statutory and one not.
The equalization standard: referenced earlier, this statutory standard requires assessed values to be balanced at one-third of the market for the three years prior to the assessment year. For 2012, this means that assessments will reflect the average market for years 2009, 2010, and 2011.
To further simplify to a single date, the date of valuation would, more or less, be July 1, 2010.
The appeals standard as currently applied: the competing standard, not reflected in statute but applied by the board of review, uses a date of January 1, 2012, pretty much BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT PROPERTY OWNERS EXPECT THE MARKET-REFERENCE DATE TO BE.
However, the assessor is unable to use that date, as expanded upon below.
Separated by 18 months, the two standards conflict in any market that is not flat-line, whether an up-market or down-market.
Thus, the statutory equalization date is almost 3 years old by the time a taxpayer opens their real estate tax bill and refers to the “Fair Cash Value” on the bill.
Further, when he or she receives the assessment notice, that number is more than two years old.
This is not an issue in an up market, because it leads most property owners to think the assessed value is lower than it should be were the market at the time the notice or bill is opened used.
This is where the old folk wisdom the-assessment-system-purposely-undervalues-property came from.
However, from a down market, a new folklore springs, the if-the-assessor-was-doing-the-job-right-there-woud-be-no-reason-to-appeal wisdom.
The fact is that, if the assessor were to value property at one-third of January 1, 2012 (for the 2012 year), the statutory equalization system would auto-correct to walk all values back 1½ years to July 1, 2010.
Actually, this is something Mr [Bill] Ottley attempted in 2010 after local equalization, with the approval of the chief county assessment officer, I might add, and a great deal of havoc was raised.
The only way the board of review can deploy the non-statutory January 1 standard is if a subset of all property owners files complaints.
We can notice the effect the form of a state equalization factor that is positive in 2010 and 2011 for the first times since 1982, as the state factor corrects for the board of review reductions that throw the overall values out of synch with the statutory equalization standard.
The more owners who file complaints successfully, the higher the corrective state factor.
So, due to the current conflict between statutory and non-statutory valuation standards, the board of review offers a deal the assessor cannot offer.
Those who do not appeal suffer for it, and they are right to think it should not be that way.
The state constitution, in Article IX says one thing about property taxes, that they “shall be levied UNIFORMLY by valuation ascertained as the General Assembly shall provide by law.”
This is not what we have right now.
And, as I was preparing to post the above, Grafton Township Assessor candidate Al Zielinski posted the following comment:
The Grafton Township Assessor, who, by NOT properly doing his job, forced an INCREASE in his township’s Urban Equalized Value of $60,000,000.
Three neighboring township Assessors were also properly doing their jobs:
- McHenry Township had a reduction of $154,000,000
- Nunda Township had a reduction of $129,000,000
- Door [Dorr] Township had a reduction of $60,000,000
Source: McHenry County Office of Assessments Annual Report Assessment Year 2011.
Property values aren’t that variable among these neighboring townships; some even share the same subdivision developments.
Three neighboring township Assessors who did their jobs very well properly REDUCED their townships’ Urban Equalized Values by hundreds of millions of dollars.
If I lived in any of those, I wouldn’t run for election.
To the contrary, I’d shake their hands and thank them for their exemplary service.
Grafton Township suffered because its Assessor wasn’t doing his job and forced an INCREASE in the township’s Urban Equalized Value of $60,000,000.
Conveying accurate data isn’t mud-slinging; it’s reporting facts of which all Grafton Township taxpayers should be aware.
Rather than conducting classes informing residents how to compensate for his poor performance, perhaps it’s the Grafton Township Assessor who should take classes so he’d at least be on par with our neighbors.
16 of 17 McHenry Township Assessor’s properly reduced their urban taxpayer’s EAV last year.
Only Grafton Township had an increase.
The data clearly show “the guy DOES NOT know his stuff.”