Real Estate Tax Assessments Down Almost 10%, Don’t Expect a Lower Bill

The 2010 assessed valuation has been totaled for McHenry County and it’s down almost 10%.

That’s what a comparison of raw figures from the McHenry County Supervisor of Assessments Office indicate.

McHenry County real estate taxes this year will be based on assessed value of $10,132,926,407 unless the State Department of Revenue decides that figure does not reflect one-third of a three-year average  of assessed value to market value.

$10.1 billion reflects a significant drop from last year’s total of $11,210,739,442.

Grafton, Chemung (Harvard) and Marengo Townships led the devaluation race. Grafton property decreased in value over 17%, Chemung over 13% and Marengo over 3%.

Because tax districts overlap the Grafton-Algonquin Township lines, it is conceivable there ill be significant shifts of tax burden in such tax districts as Lake in the Hills, the Huntley School District and the Village of Lakewood.  Those on the Grafton Township side of the line may end up paying much less taxes to the overlapping districts than those on the Algonquin Township side of the line.
With assessed values down throughout McHenry County, one might think that tax bills will decrease.

My prediction is the same as the first year home prices started sinking.

Your tax bill will most likely increase.

McHenry County Townships.

That’s because virtually every tax district (include schools here) asked for the maximum amount they could get under the Tax Cap law.

That maximum is the amount the Consumer Price Index increased.  This year that means +2.7%, as I read this Illinois Revenue Department chart.

As long as assessed valuation was growing rapidly, tax district officials bragged about how their tax rates were less than the year before.

What complete dribble!

The way the Tax Cap (PRELL are the initials of the law’s title) works, if a district’s tax assessment base increases more than the increase in the cost of living, the tax rate must be cut so the district’s tax take will not exceed the increase in the cost of living.

Conversely, if last year’s tax rate multiplied times the new assessed value does not bring in last year’s property tax revenue, plus the increase in the CPI almost universally requested by tax district board members, the tax rate goes up.

That’s what happened last year.

It’s what I predicted over three years ago.

So, don’t think that a lower assessment figure will necessarily mean you will get a lower tax bill.

It could have meant that if tax district officials had not been greedy enough to request the maximum they could receive this year.

I have written about two districts where one board member tried to ratchet back the tax request for this year.

Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore made the suggestion, but lost the vote. A second vote was taken. This article has Rob LaPorta’s explanation. LaPorta notes that it will cost “11 cents per $100,000 home value.”

LaPorta is correct that township government takes relatively little of the total real estate taxes people pay.

But when every (or virtually every) tax district takes the 2.7% maximum amount allowed by state law, don’t be surprised if your tax bill is 2.7% higher than last year.

A similar request was made by John O’Neill at the levy meeting of the McHenry Grade School Board. I wrote about the unsuccessful effort in this article:

The Primal Urge of Government: Take As Much As It Can Get

A comment under that article leads me to believe that Aileen Seedorf made a similar unsuccessful suggestion to the Huntley School District 158 Board with similar results.

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