CHICAGO (CBS) — Property tax increases in Cook County are going beyond sticker shock. For some families it’s life-changing, and they say they will have no choice but to move.
“This is out of control,” said Liz Gold.
She and her family have lived in their 1890s rehabbed home in Ravenswood since 2001. They had hoped to stay until they were hit with their recent Cook County property tax bill that may force them out.
“Overall for the year it increased by 60%,” she said. “We are now paying almost $21,000 — $20,200.”
She said they had been paying $12,000.
Gold said the extra $800 a month they need to find to pay their new yearly bill erased any college money they had hoped to save for their youngest son.
“I’m not getting a $10,000 a year raise. My husband won’t be getting a $10,000 a year raise. I don’t know how we’re going to make that happen,” she said. “It’s not feasible for us to absorb that cost.”
The sticker shock is being felt by hundreds if not thousands of Chicago property owners, especially on the city’s North Side, after their homes were reassessed by the Cook County Assessor’s Office last year.
For Steve Willuweit his new bill amounts to a 26% property tax increase — after he appealed his tax bill and won.
“I can handle a single digit, 4, 5, 6%,” he said. “I can find that in the budget, and you kind of expect things to go up over time, but when it’s that precipitous it’s hard to find that money.”
Property taxes help fund a variety of county and city services, but in Illinois a growing percentage of that money goes to funding government pensions.
“There are a great number of people in this office who came in under Assesor Kaegi who it is not an exaggeration to say are kept up at night worrying about getting this work right,” said Scott Smith, spokesperson for the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
But Smith refused to answer any other questions about the current tax bills on camera, attributing the increases and assessments to the prior administration under Joe Berrios.
That included talking about the fairness of the current assessments and how families are expected to swallow the massive hike.
“I just don’t understand how there’s not some sort of ceiling on this or a cap of some sort,” said Gold. “If we could plan for it, it would be different.”
Now Gold is planning to leave.
“We probably will end up moving from Chicago,” she said.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reached out to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office Monday to ask how homeowners are expected to absorb these massive jumps, but no one got back to her.
A spokesperson for Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would get back to CBS 2 on the matter as well.