Suburban homeowners may see property tax cut

May 11, 2009 The reductions are in response to the downturn in the market.

Chicago homes are not included because they are already being reassessed this year.

So when will any benefit be reflected on property tax bills?

It's not time to assess suburban properties, but the Cook County assessor is taking what he calls "unprecedented" steps to compensate for the housing crisis. A downward housing market adjustment will take place this year. Homeowners will see the reductions when they get their tax bills in 2010. But some are already hoping to see significant savings.

Martin Miranda bought his house in Cicero two years ago, during better times. He immediately made upgrades to his property.

"I put the sidewalk, the air conditioning and carpet, but now, I can't do nothing no more," Miranda said.

That's because he has since been laid off from his job installing office furniture, a casualty of the economic downturn.

"My wife is the only one working, so I'm struggling with the bills," said Miranda.

Miranda and his family are managing for now, but so many others with similar stories have lost their houses, and in response to the real estate collapse, Cook County Assessor James Houlihan wants to give homeowners a break, by lowering the assessed value of suburban Cook County homes.

"The housing market is facing an extraordinary time. Sales markets in some areas are barely a flicker," said Houlihan.

Houlihan plans to cut assessments between 5 to 15 percent, based on a township's foreclosure rate, home sales volume and sales prices by year's end.

Thirty suburban townships will see reductions in assessed value, even though this is not a regular reassessment year for them.

"Their assessments will more accurately reflect the local conditions of the market," said Houlihan.

Areas hit hardest by foreclosures and slumping home sales will see the biggest reductions, like Cicero, where adjustments will drop by 15 percent.

However, commercial properties will not get an assessment break, so strip malls, office buildings and downtown shopping districts will likely shoulder more of the tax burden for Cook County.

As for Miranda, he says the possibility of paying less money for his property is good news.

"That'd be nice, especially right now with the economy and all this stuff," said Miranda.

Chicago is not included in this effort because it is already facing its usual reassessment this year. Reassessment notices will be mailed starting in June, and some areas of the city will likely receive a downward adjustment because of housing market conditions.

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