Even if you’re already off-the-charts cynical about how things work in Cook County, Part 4 of that Chicago Tribune/ProPublica report on commercial property may surprise you.
Sure, owners of expensive properties use politically connected law firms to reduce their bill, but the report shows how dysfunctional the whole system is. It’s mostly small businesses and cheaper properties that get the short end of the stick. Big owners get their reductions and everybody else has to pay for it, as the report shows.
The study looked at how many properties had no change in assessed valuation since 2009, despite huge, obvious changes in the market: More than two-thirds had identical first-pass values in at least two consecutive reassessment. That’s under Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios. Under his predecessor, Jim Houlihan, however, that portion was only 1.1%.
And look at the dollar total of property tax reductions successfully completed by Michael Madigan’s law firm: $1.7 billion from 2011 through 2016. That’s no typo. $1.7 billion!
The report was a joint project by the Tribune and ProPublica. Kudos to both. ProPublica is a donation supported organization that expanded in Chicago recently. It has been left-leaning, but that’s fine if they continue with fact-based work like this, which we need more of. To them, welcome.
-Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.