As something of an afterthought in a Northwest Herald article flattering McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, the top local Democrat siad the following:
“Our assessors should be centralized instead of having all of these different ones throughout the county it should just be one. I think that way it would be much more uniform…we shouldn’t be treating any of our citizens differently.”
Of course, the law regarding assessment is the same in all of McHenry County’s townships.
One-third of market value, as defined by a three-year average.
Again, I apologize for agreeing to the three-year average.
I was on the Conference Committee that set the standard after the 1970 Stat Constitution gave the legislature that power.
The impetus came from the Illinois Agriculture Association, which pointed out that a recreational development (Galena Territory) in Jo Daviess County had driven up farm prices to unnatural levels.
So, instead of a one-year average that human beings could understand, the statute set a three-year average.
There is nothing conceptually wrong with a county assessor doing all the assessments, but history in McHenry County tells us that sometimes one needs a strong township assessor to protect local taxpayers from the wrath of county government.
During the term of Algonquin Township Assessor Forrest B. Hare, it was discovered that property owners in this southeaserntmost part of McHenry County was assessed much higher than the rest of the county.
In particular, buyers of new homes were assessed way higher than the county average. (They were at 60% of market value, while two sales ratio studies I conducted while County Treasurer showed the county average at 42.4%.)
Scuttlebutt at the county indicated that the reason was because people moving into Algonquin Township were the cause of the county’s problems and they deserved to be punished.
Hare provided that protection against the County Supervisor of Assessments.
Decentralization of power is one of the aspects of American government I hold most dearly.
Since the Supervisor of Assessments is appointed by the County Board Chairman, elimination of township assessors would place more power in the hands of that office.
And, how powerful can an assessor be.
Back until the early 1950’s Illinois County Treasurers were also in charge of assessing property.
At one of my first Illinois County Treasurers Association meetings, I learned from one of the older guys that the legislature had created the office of Supervisor of Assessments to take that power from Treasurer.
It was considered a reform measure.
The quip that I shall always remember came from when I asked why Treasurers and Sheriffs were limited to one term by the 1870 Stat Constitution. (They could run more than once, but not consequentially.)
The Constitutional fathers “figured if you couldn’t get rich in one term as Treasurer or Sheriff, you were too stupid to hold the job.”