South suburban homeowners say property tax assessments raised up to 650%: 'I will probably move'

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone and Maggie Green WLS logo
Friday, March 22, 2024
South suburban homeowners say property tax assessments rise up to 650%
Some south suburban homeowners in Cook County reported their property tax assessments increased, with a jump of almost 650% at a Lyons Township home.

LYONS, Ill. (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team team has been looking into extraordinary increases in property tax assessments, leaving home owners panicked that they won't be able to afford to stay in their houses.

When pressed by the I-Team last fall, the Cook County Assessor admitted that some south suburban homeowners were over-assessed.

After seeing the investigation, more homeowners reached out, and the I-Team uncovered more of what residents and an expert call questionable assessment increases.

"We're going to be out-taxed from all of our homes," said Jami Flaws, a homeowner who contacted the I-Team.

Flaws and her husband live in south suburban Lyons Township. Many of their neighbors fear the end of their close-knit neighborhood, anxious that they may have to move because of property tax assessment spikes. Some are facing increases of nearly 650%.

Residents say the tax assessment increases don't match the market values of their homes.

"We probably won't be able to sell our homes because they aren't even close to what the assessment says," Flaws said.

Because of the new property tax assessments, the Flaws' property taxes will more than double from $7,000 a year to more than $16,000.

"It will destroy my kids' futures, because our investment has been, for 36 years, in our home and land," Flaws said.

After losing their first appeal, the Flaws hired an independent appraiser, who found the market value of their home to be half as much what the Cook County Assessor's office declared. It was $450,000 compared to the assessor's $878,000.

The I-Team heard similar stories from other residents.

"I will probably move," Lyons Township homeowner Tom Ahern said.

Ahern was shocked when he saw that his land assessment increased 643%, nearly doubling his yearly tax bill from 10-thousand to more than 18-thousand. He says he's left with just one choice.

"Sell the house and take my losses and move on," Ahern said.

The I-Team contacted the Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi about the two properties. His office replied, admitting that they made an error when calculating land values, saying, "we have submitted a request for a correction to the Cook County Board of Review, which will determine whether to reduce the values of these properties before they certify property values in Lyons Township."

The Flaws contacted the I-Team after seeing an investigation about huge tax assessment increases in unincorporated Rich Township near Tinley Park.

READ MORE | South suburban property assessments jump up 100-200 percent, bringing huge tax increases

Homeowner Lisa Markewicz is facing a tax jump of 210%.

"Are you kidding me?" Markewicz said in November. "Are we going to lose our house?"

After questioning Kaegi's office, the I-Team was told mistakes were made and many of the Rich Township homes would be re-assessed. The office said "...the land rate was too high for these homes and should be reduced."

Back in Lyons Township, residents gathered to hear from Township Assessor Patrick Hynes, who advocates for accurate assessments.

"There's a section of my community that has been wildly over assessed," Hynes said. "We filed an appeal for each of these taxpayers."

Those appeals were unsuccessful, so Hynes is trying again, this time with the help of the Cook County Board of Review who gathered residents' signed paperwork.

"There have been land assessments assigned to these properties randomly," Hynes said. "They're not rooted in market value."

Property assessments have jumped across Cook County's south side.

The ABC7 Data Team researched single-family residential homes in Lyons Township and found that the average increase since 2020 is more than 32%. Rich Township has the highest average increase over these last 3 years, at 64%.

"It's not that we have an issue with rising taxes. We don't know where they came up with these figures," Flaws said.

The Cook County Assessor told the I-Team that market values are up and that assessments increased greatly in the south suburbs in the recent 2023 reassessment. The Assessor said that the new assessment made up for breaks his office gave during the COVID adjustments in 2020.

If you're in this situation, the Board of Review said you should appeal to assessor and to the Board of Review.

If those options don't work you can file an appeal with the state.

Assessor appeal

County Board