Cook County Aggregate Assessed Values Continue to Decline with Residential Assessments Leading the Way

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[authors: Scott Metcalf and Ares Dalianis]

With second installment property tax bills arriving in mailboxes, the Final Abstract of 2011 Assessment is now available. This data shows the aggregate assessed value by property class countywide, by reassessment district, and by township. For the third year we are comparing this information across time to reveal changes in the relative tax burden among classes of property as well as the trends affecting the property tax extension process.

Countywide, total assessed value declined for a fourth straight year. Since 2008, the total assessed value of all property in Cook County has declined by 19%, from approximately $72.5 billion to $59 billion (see Countywide Assessed Value by Class graph). Looking at classes of property, the largest decline in assessed value between 2008 and 2011 occurred in Class 2 (residential) property, which declined by $7.2 billion. This represented a 16% decrease over four years. Class 5 (commercial and industrial) property, however, declined by 22% from 2008 to 2011, from $23.5 billion to $18.4 billion. As a result, residential property’s share of the tax burden countywide increased from 62.2% in 2008 to 64.1% in 2011. The aggregate assessed value of property by class countywide and in each of the three reassessment districts is contained in the Aggregate Assessed Value by Major Class of Property table.

Because the south suburban district was reassessed in 2011, the trends seen countywide are most pronounced in this area (see South Triad Assessed Value by Class graph). Total assessed value declined by 14% between 2010 and 2011. Residential property experienced the largest decline, down by 17% from 2010. Commercial and industrial property declined by only 4% from the previous year. As a result, residential property's share of the tax base declined from 72.8% to 69.9%. Correspondingly, commercial and industrial property's share of the tax base increased, from 23.1% to 25.8% (see Aggregate Assessed Value by Major Class of Property table).

The trend is not limited to any one region of Cook County though. Assessed values declined in 37 of 38 Cook County townships between 2010 and 2011 (see Township table). Only North township in the City of Chicago experienced an increase in total assessed value between 2010 and 2011. These declines in all parts of the County, which can be attributed to declining real estate sales prices occurring across the country, result in increased tax rates to generate the property tax revenue allowed under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law. But, tax rates will not be able to rise indefinitely. Maximum tax rates, such as 3.5% for an educational fund, are set by the School Code. The current trends indicate that many districts will now be moving closer to those statutory rate limits.