Don't do us any favors, Mr. Mayor | Bleader

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't do us any favors, Mr. Mayor

Posted By on 03.06.08 at 01:02 PM

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Yesterday Mayor Daley held a press conference to announce that help was on the way for the city's poor beleaguered residential property tax payers.

He was going to have the Cook County Board of Review extend the deadline for filing tax assessment appeals. You now have until March 31 to appeal.

Pardon me for being unappreciative, but: thanks for nothing, Mr. Mayor.

I know these things get complicated, so I'll be brief. The most important element in determining how much we pay in property taxes is the levy -- that is, the amount of property tax dollars Mayor Daley wants to spend. Our levy keeps rising because Daley keeps spending more and more money every year thanks to TIFs, the mayor's favorite tax boondoggle.

The mayor either doesn't realize this or doesn't want to admit it. So when the public cries for tax relief, he proposes to tinker with the assessment -- the one part of the taxpaying process he should have nothing to do with. As faithful readers ought to know by now, your property tax bill is basically determined by multiplying the amount your property is valued at (i.e., its assessment)  by the tax rate. If the board of review lowers your assessment, will you pay less in taxes? Absolutely. But the overall amount of property taxes that Mayor Daley's government -- and, let's face it, he controls all aspects of local government -- will remain the same. So the burden of payment will shift from those who know how to play the tax-appeals game to those who don't.

Who generally applies for assessment cuts? Commercial property owners who have the savvy to hire sharp, clout-heavy lawyers who know enough to contribute campaign dollars to the three members of the board of review.

So the mayor's great reform proposal means that the sharpies will get a break and everyone else -- the usual collection of suckers and saps -- will pick up the slack. In the name of cutting our taxes, the mayor will be raising them. And all so he can win some headlines in his ongoing PR campaign to convince the public that he truly cares about taxing them out of their homes.

Please, Mr. Mayor -- no more property tax relief. The taxpayers can't afford it. 

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