Algonquin Township Assessor Bob Kunz Explains Assessment Levels, Grafton Township Assessor Candidate Al Zielinski Comments

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.

Bob Kunz

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:

Mr. Kunz is the Algonquin Township Assessor who, by properly doing his job, REDUCED his township’s Urban Equalized Value $294,000,000. Yes, Algonquin Township DECREASED almost $300,000,000.

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.”


Algonquin Township Assessor Bob Kunz Explains Assessment Levels, Grafton Township Assessor Candidate Al Zielinski Comments — 16 Comments

  1. Cal – you left off everyone elses comments about how Bill was correct.

    Let me help!

    Get a clue Al says:

    09/21/2012 at 7:47 am

    Bob Kunz – you are the assessor from Algonquin Township? Correct?

    As for Al, looks like Kunz just blew your “Ottley was wrong” theory out of the water. Says he even had the Chief County Assessors approval.

    You are now contradicting not only your “Zero Appeals” promise, but seems like you are being proven wrong about Ottleys valuations too.

    This is why an Assessor is an Assessor, and an Appraiser is NOT!

    You should perhaps consider working in an assessors office before trying to run one where you can MESS UP my tax bill.

    It might serve me and my community better.

    You can still donate part of your earnings to the food pantry if you want though.

    Perhaps Ottley or Kunz is hiring?

    Jason K. says:

    09/21/2012 at 9:21 am

    Hey Al, just take the class already!

    Everybody learns something new from time to time, nothing to be embarrassed about or get snippy about. You just don’t have the grasp, or the facts, of the actual history.

    Talk to Bill, don’t just sling mud because you want his job. The guy knows his stuff.

    Get a clue…..Yes, Bob Kunz is the Algonquin Twp. Assessor

    Get a clue Al says:

    09/21/2012 at 1:37 pm

    Why don’t you go back one more year, and look at the numbers for 2010?
    Look at Grafton reductions then.

    Stats can be skewed anyway you want them, bottom line is that Ottley is helping people get fair assessments, and teaching them about IL property tax issues.

    Have you ever met Ottley? Ever had a conversation with him, about why you feel his numbers are wrong, and given him the opportunity for him to explain the history of the assessments to you? Maybe the two of you could have coffee, or even a formal debate, and let the voters decide who they believe is in the right?

    Seeing as how one of the other township Assessors has stated even he knew Ottley was working with the Chief County Assessor…you might give him the benefit of the doubt. Then again, you want his job so I doubt it.

    Politics – doesn’t it just bring out the best in people?

  2. I have spoken to Ottley a couple of times for various reasons and he seems very work avasive to me.

    My neighbor pays a much lower tax rate and is somehow part of Algonquin Township (even though they live in Grafton), but Ottley says he can’t do anything about it. It sounds like he doesn’t want to do his job!

    I have never seen him at a Grafton Township meeting (granted I have only been to a few).

  3. There were other comments too – is a link to them out of the question?

    Are you showing favortism in your blog for Zielinski? Is it intentional?
    That is the way it appears.

  4. Mr. Zielinski, Please go to and sign up for one of the appeal seminars that Assessor Ottley is holding.

    He can at least explain this process to you, instead of you taking shots in the dark.

  5. So far Assessor Ottley has submitted no identifiable comments or press releases.

    If he does, I shall treat them similarly to Al Zielinski’s.

  6. Lets take a look at the 2010 numbers, which Mr. Zielinski conveniently didn’t mention:

    Grafton: 316,000,000 DECREASE
    McHenry: 138,000,000 decrease
    Nunda: 120,000,000 decrease
    Dorr: 52,000,000 decrease

  7. This is a fair forum and why I diligently read and post on it.

    The thread to ALL related comments was clearly posted via the link in the first line of this article.

    That thread contains my explanation why 2011 was so important.

    My data source was clearly cited so taxpayers can easily access any prior year they wish.

    I also didn’t mention 2009.

    That year, Grafton Township was regrettably #1 with the largest increase in urban EAV of all 17 townships.

    A whopping $103,000,000 increase!

    21% more than #2 and almost 100% more than #3.

    None of the anonymous posters’ comments explain why 16 of 17 McHenry County township Assessor’s properly did their jobs in 2011, a general assessment year, but Grafton Township’s Assessor did not.

    e explain what was so unique about Grafton Township that year.

    None explain why Grafton Township lead all McHenry townships in urban assessment increases in 2009.

    Hint: changes in parcel composition or growth sure don’t explain why.

    My decision to run for Grafton Township Assessor was and remains based on my concern for all of Grafton Township’s taxpayers.

    It was reached after seeing the current Assessor’s dismal appearance at the Board of Review.

    It was reinforced by personally feeling the financial pain of his malfeasance at the start of a general assessment cycle.

    That 5% increase in assessments (and therefore taxes) could be put to much better use by the families and businesses who call Grafton Township home.

    Grafton Township has been significantly penalized by the current Assessor’s lack of performance in two of the last three years.

    I’m in the process of gathering additional years and will make those data available when I have them.

    It’s time for a change to someone with the education, broad experience and fire in his belly to fight for the taxpayers of Grafton Township.

    Taxpayers deserve way more than classes on how to spend their time compensating for their Assessor’s poor performance.

  8. Its time for a new assessor.

    How long has this one been in office?

    Didn’t he hire his family to work for him?

  9. Al Zielinski says:
    09/22/2012 at 12:41 am
    “This is a fair forum and why I diligently read and post on it.”

    AL ZIELINSKI – Based on this one sentence I won’t be voting for you.

    This is Cal’s blog. His blog is biased. Nothing wrong with that, FAR from “fair” though. Cal allows visitors to “comment” at his discretion. That does not make this a forum.

    IMHO, candidates don’t do well at campaigning by posting on various blogs.

    Readers can’t determine emotion and inflection via posts and there is often no point/counter-point. Good luck.

  10. As I said before, any time Bill Ottley wants to use his name on a post, I shall certainly publish it.

  11. Any forum in which critical issues to taxpayers are discussed is welcome.

    Based on the number of unsubstantiated comments in this forum posted by pseudonyms, all of which the author “allowed” to be published, I’ll maintain my belief it is fair.

    I don’t expect to get everyone’s vote.

    Those who will vote for me believe a highly-qualified, hard worker with the best interests of all Grafton Township property owners at heart will provide a better future for their families and businesses.

  12. So, I received my “Equalization, Adj to Market Value” (Property Assessment Notice”) yesterday.

    I was FLOORED. My Equalized Assessed Valuation dropped from the 2014 of $52,851 to my now 2015 $27,189.


    How in the world can my house be worth $81,580 “2015 Full Fair Cash Value” and have dropped by almost 50%? Unless, the Grafton Township assessor did NOT do their job for 5 straight years?

    I understand that it takes 2 years of ebb and flow (to catch up to the market)…. but THIS?

    Sure I am happy my Tax Bill will be HALVED, but what about 2013 and 2014? There is NO WAY my home has been worth less than $100K for 3 straight years, I’d say it has been since 2008.

    The home sales right by my house $90K, $80K, $45K!!!!!!!!

    in the past 3 years have been the clue.

    I want the assessor’s head on a platter (not literally, just criminal charges) if going by what the author indicated, that the Grafton Township assessor is the ONLY assessor who didn’t do their job correctly and didn’t do so FOR YEARS!!!!

  13. I’ve just forwarded the assessment to the Veterans Administration for review (I am in the middle of a “loan modification” and are in constant contact with them due to the wildly gyrating “worth” of this house (Wells Fargo and my broker had stated $100k 9 months ago, I’ve demanded a “VA Appraisal” to get at the truth).

    I am sure this assessment will get both Wells Fargo’s and the VA’s direct attention considering the free fall that my $215K home loan is taking regarding principle versus market value.

  14. And my comments are not directed at the present Grafton Assessor (who appears to be doing his job – especially after reading this latest assessment).

    It is directed at the previous assessor.

    I wonder just how many people in Grafton Township are getting these notices of substantial reduction in valuation?

    And I wonder if the McHenry County States Attorney should be looking at this issue (because the reduced rates means that this will affect the budget of all agencies getting a piece of this reduced budgetary pie).. and a almost 50% reduction in my rate is a clear sign something was amiss for many years in the Grafton Township assessor’s office.

  15. By the way, full disclosure – I live at 11807 Mill Street – Huntley, IL.

    I am a Disabled Veteran who has been dealing with major financial hardship (and the inflated taxes that I believe were paid from 2012 – 2014 should be enough for an investigation of the previous assessor).

    Home values in my part of Huntley have been HALVED for over 6 years, and my valuation / taxes should have been addressed 3 years ago.

    Unfortunately, being disabled (and helping one’s spouse fight cancer) means that one is overwhelmed with financial difficulties and trying to appeal an assessment was the last thing I thought I would be successful at).

    I should have looked into it YEARS ago.

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