By Stuart R. Wahlin
Bev Campion, Winnebago County’s supervisor of assessments, announced assessment notices were mailed Aug. 13 to about one-third of the county’s taxpayers, whose properties were reassessed by township assessors.
“That leaves approximately 80,000 taxpayers who will not get an assessment notice, because they are only impacted by the equalization factors,” she warned. Although two-thirds of county taxpayers won’t receive notifications, their tax bills may still go up.
Campion said it’s imperative to get the word out now, so taxpayers are aware of the 30-day protest period.
“We want everyone to know and be aware of the process, and to know that the complaint deadline for 2009 is Sept. 14,” she said. Once tax bills are issued next year, Campion cautioned, it’ll be too late to complain.
“Everything that we do is governed by the statute, so we have no choice in when we send notices, to whom we send notices, and how long people have to complain,” she noted.
Equalization factors for Cherry Valley, Durand, Laona and Shirland townships are 1.0000, meaning there is no change.
Winnebago County’s remaining township equalization factors, however, range between 1.0169 to 1.0486, equating increases.
Campion indicated grounds for appeal include incorrect assessment records, which, for instance, may reflect more square footage than a home actually has. Arguments of overvaluation, based on market value of comparable homes, or a recent purchase, are also grounds for appeal.
“It is worth doing, especially if you have a valid reason,” Campion asserted. “It’s getting increasingly more effective to file a complaint, because the Board of Review recognizes the impact these factors are having on today’s market. We’re estimating somewhere between 50 and 75 percent were successful last year. Last year, we had the most complaints in many years, which was almost 3,000. We expect a lot more than that this year.”
Campion described 2009 as the most difficult year she’s faced in her 27 years in the office.
Although the entire county is reeling under the past year’s economic crisis, assessments for 2009 are based partially on numbers from 2006, which Campion noted as a good year in the housing market.
“This year is a tough one, because we read in the paper about market values dropping, people are out of work, the economy is bad,” Campion added. “And yet, here are the assessments going up again.”
She explained the equalization factors are based on a three-year average median level of assessments, from 2006-2008, so a decrease is not expected to be seen until tax bills are received in 2011.
County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen called the three-year cycle “archaic,” and suggested state lawmakers instead consider a flat tax.
Residents wishing to view their assessment information online should visit http://cis.co.winnebago.il.us/parcelinquiry/assessor/.
To file a complaint, visit the Supervisor of Assessments/Board of Review office at 404 Elm St., room 301, or call (815) 319-4460.
Homeowners seeking comparable sales information should contact Rockford Area Realtors at (815) 395-6776.
From the Aug. 19-25, 2009 issue