Daley pushes for property tax legislation

CHICAGO The current property tax bill reflects the value of homes in 2006. But with the prices of homes dropping, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley wants to see the taxes reassessed.

In addition to the downturn in the economy, Daley says that there were fraudulent assessments of properties, artificially overvaluing homes.

Some Chicago homeowners are dealing with bills that were as much as $800 more. Many are trying to appeal their bills.

Daley said he believes something needs to be done to permanently protect homeowners. He suggested legislation to make permanent exemptions and more assessments that better reflect the current value of the homes.

"How can they appraise a home three blocks from here or four blocks from here $300,000, $400,000? You're going to see these. They have case after case. Each alderman can recite it, what happened to these homeowners. How can it be? Once you do a fraudulent appraisal on one block, they are all the same then. See, they go to the most recent appraisal. All the mortgage people, all the appraisals, all the lawyers have been well taken care of. They got all the money," said Daley.

Some residents of Englewood say they are taking an unfair hit in their property taxes.

"My taxes do not end with my house. So you imagine how that is. There's a house note and then the tax is separate. So that's kind of rough," said Arlnette Dyer, homeowner.

Justine Mosley Stephens owns nine rental buildings. She says the property taxes for all of them have gone from $7,000 last year to $13,000 this year.

"It's outrageous. And I have tenants, long-term tenants," said Mosley Stephens.

"We know those market rates, especially in Englewood, weren't real in the first place. And they're especially not real now. And so those bills are really high," said Ald. LaTasha Thomas, 17th Ward.

Several aldermen stood with Mayor Daley Thursday asking for property tax relief, saying fraudulent appraisals inflated home values and disproportionately affect some of the city's low-income neighborhoods.

"We could do an adjustment each year and be more closely aligned with the market," said Ald. Pat O'Connor, 40th Ward.

Residents have been piling into the Cook County assessor's office to look for ways to reduce their taxes. The current tax bills reflect the value of the home in January of 2006. The Cook County assessor said he'd like to see an annual adjustment to reflect the current home value more accurately.

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