Illinois (ECWd) -
According to Governor Rauner, "In Cook County, we have a corrupt, abusive property tax system that is rigged to benefit political insiders".
What makes him think this problem is limited to Cook County?
In the fall of 2016, concerned business owners in Coles County asked for our help to expose serious issues with a recent property tax assessment problem. A problem of property tax uniformity, as in lack of, admitted to by the County Board that is now in the Federal Courts.
State Representative and Gubernatorial Candidate Jeanie Ives of Wheaton, met with a few of the Coles County business owners and took the time to hear the problems. In addition to what she learned from that meeting, during school funding hearings she asked tough questions that led to the discovery of a serious problem with assessments and it was not limited to Cook County, as was claimed by Governor Rauner.
Her pursuit of information from the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDR) regarding our findings and concerns she heard during public hearings led to nothing more than lip service as the Department of Revenue never provided her with the information as they promised her they would.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for key records and what we have uncovered is enough to point to a failure on a grand scale to property taxpayers in 36 counties, of which none are in Cook County.
Did you receive an illegal property tax assessment?
35 ILCS 200/2-45- ...no person is eligible to file nomination papers or participate as a candidate in any caucus or primary or general election for, or be appointed to fill vacancies in, the office of township or multi-township assessor, unless he or she (i) has successfully completed an introductory course in assessment practices that is approved by the Department; or (ii) possesses at least one of the qualifications listed in paragraphs (1) through (6) of subsection (c) of this Section. The candidate cannot file nominating papers or participate as a candidate unless a copy of the certificate of his or her qualifications is filed with the township clerk, board of election commissioners, or other appropriate authority as required by the Election Code. The candidate cannot be appointed to fill a vacancy until he or she has filed a copy of the certificate of his or her qualifications with the appointing authority.
We have confirmed there were 36 Counties where 55 assessors were illegally placed on the ballot and elected to office in direct violation of the law. This fact is confirmed based on the IDR letters sent to the State's Attorney for each applicable county where the illegal assessor was holding office.
A timeline explanation letter from IDR points to two categories of assessors they have identified. "candidates who did not meet statutory educational requirements and candidates who had met the requirements but just failed to request a certificate." Looking at each category, the total assessors who had not been educated to the required standard to assess totaled 25 while those educated but failed to have appropriate certifications to be on the ballot totaled 30 assessors.
Pay special attention to the notes in those two categories as it is clear, many have not obtained the required education to hold the position, some have resigned, and others are scheduled to get trained.
Every State's Attorney in these 36 counties should have already taken action to remove these people from office and require proper appointments of qualified people take place. Is anyone willing to bet on that taking place?
As if having illegal assessors assessing property in this state is not enough of a concern, are the failures of the Township Officials yet another indicator as to why Townships are being eyed for elimination? In this case, it was Township officials who allowed the illegal filings of candidates for assessors.
35 ILCS 200/2-45- ..If any person files nominating papers for candidacy for the office of township or multi-township assessor without also filing a copy of the certificate as required by this Section, the clerk of the township, the board of election commissioners, or other appropriate authority as required by the Election Code shall refuse to certify the name of the person as a candidate to the proper election officials.
We contend that any property that has been assessed by these people constitutes an illegal assessment as they were put in those positions in direct violation of state law, as confirmed by the IDR and anyone competent enough to read the statute. We also contend anyone impacted by these illegal assessors actions, property owners and public bodies who received property tax should take immediate legal action. Property owners have a cause of action if they saw increases in assessments while public bodies have a cause of action if there were decreases in assessments.
We predict the follow-up investigation of this mess will reflect numerous State's Attorneys and Townships have still not fixed this the way they are required to by law, even though we telegraph this position in advance!
Taxpayers of Illinois, you'd better wake up and get involved in your local government as this is yet another clear example of how broken it is in Illinois.