Reports on property tax cuts cloud entire history of assessors’ office reforms: Kaegi

In its recent article on property tax exemptions, the Sun-Times focuses on salacious details and obscures how the Cook County assessor’s office is approaching the larger problem.

I have made transparency a hallmark of my office because of the patronage of the past. Our office operates more efficiently and fairly than ever before. Our dedicated public servants deserve praise for these accomplishments, not sensational reports that suggest otherwise.

Since taking office, our flawed exemptions department has forced over 9,800 properties to pay back $ 15 million for tax breaks they didn’t deserve. The nine cases in the history of the Sun-Times, most of which predate my administration, should not obscure this basic fact.

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Our erroneous exemptions service is not funded by taxpayers, but by the interest and penalties accrued from these cases. The rest of the money collected is donated to schools, libraries and other agencies to prevent property taxes from rising further.

When the Sun-Times reported that some people received tax breaks that they should not have had, it did not explain in detail how our process was addressing this issue and how the changes my administration made are making. a difference for taxpayers.

The assessor’s office now reviews exemption records annually to remove deceased persons from our records. We’ve replaced the 40-year-old mainframe that caused many of these errors with a modern system, giving Cook County homeowners the efficiency and technology they deserve. Finally, the Department of Erroneous Exemption has a surplus under my administration, which saves taxpayers money.

The assessor’s office reviews all exemptions every three years to check for errors. State law allows the office to claw back up to six years of bogus exemptions, which is the exact number of years of “tax breaks” the “dead gangster” received in the Sun- title. Times. A hearing is scheduled to move this case forward to resolution.

By obscuring the above details and choosing a title for this story which we believe links the bureau to organized crime, The Sun-Times has misled readers and eroded public trust.

No one should expect the assessor’s office to check taxpayers’ criminal backgrounds or take action based on their professional or personal life. It’s easy to see how this could turn into a dangerous slippery slope towards the use of a public office for political retaliation. These practices will never be part of my administration.

Reporters and journalists are an indispensable part of our democracy. We need them to keep a watchful eye on the government and report wrongdoing when it occurs. By the choices it made in this story, The Sun-Times failed in this duty and undermined the trust it had in its readers.

Fritz Kaegi, Cook County Assessor

Demolish a dwelling to create a yard

Regarding Emily Talen’s recent letter on whether the rich should be allowed to demolish real estate to create open space: Last time I checked, Ms Talen, this is a free country where you can own property and more than one lot.

We have lived in our neighborhood for 31 years and we have both contributed a lot to the education of the children and also started businesses that allow people to work hard and buy housing. I was a teacher in Chicago public schools, volunteered at a children’s museum, helped found the first dog park in Chicago, and am a board member and volunteer with PAWS Chicago.

We care about this city, so don’t tell us that by working hard and paying with your own money, we shouldn’t have the right to enrich our neighborhood, beautify and make our street very desirable by having a courtyard. Our neighbor’s house was in terrible shape and they were glad we made it look good. They moved to a much nicer place.

In 31 years of living on my street, no one has said, “I wish more people could live in this block. “

Judith Tullman, Lincoln Park

The wrong way to value equity

It is fashionable for school districts to embrace how they value equity. Indian Prairie School District 204 in Naperville / Aurora is no different. But their redistribution of neighborhood boundaries shows that fairness is furthest from their minds. IPSD 204 has a low-income district population percentage of 17%.

The latest map proposed by the administration recommended an increase in the percentage of low income at Gombert Primary School from 35% to 51%. This is three times the district average and further separates the school by income. Currently Georgetown Elementary is 59% low income, more than three times the district average.

It is not an equity valuation.

Among the five largest unitary school districts, the IPSD has the smallest number of low-income students. Yet they seem to be deliberately segregating students on the basis of income.

They go back, not forward.

Alisha Smith, Aurore

Penny D. Jackson