Owners of several hundred rental properties in Park Forest will soon pay higher taxes as inappropriate exemptions are taken away. (Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Village officials report they have learned from the Cook County Assessor’s Office that 980 Park Forest properties in Cook County have been flagged for irregularities related to homestead, senior and/or senior freeze exemptions. In other words, some owners of rental properties were apparently claiming exemptions they had no right to claim. Since Park Forest levies a dollar amount, that meant that these property owners paid less, while the burden of the levy was shifted to other property owners in town.
Village Manager Tom Mick says that over the past few years, the Village has registered its complaints with the Assessor’s Offices of Rich Township, Bloom Township and Cook County that certain rental properties in town were receiving exemptions when they were not warranted. A coordinated project amongst Finance Department and Community Development Staff looking at County exemption details and Village rental property documentation led to a list of properties going to the Cook County Assessor’s Office for their further review, the manager says. Lumni Likovski, the Manager of Taxpayer Exemption Processing with Cook County, followed up on the documentation to better understand the Village’s due diligence before flagging each of the properties. As a result of these efforts, Mick says the exemptions previously applied to these properties will be voided “in the system” until the property owner provides follow up substantiation for any of the above-noted exemptions.
Mick says that he and Mayor Ostenburg established a positive relationship with Mr. Likovski when the Village was dealing with another tax issue in 2005-2006.
"Since then, our relationship with the Mr. Likovski has continued and, I believe, he has come to understand the diligent and credible work being done by the Village," Mick says.
While this discovery is a positive step, correcting these issues will likely gain the Village of Park Forest no money in additional tax dollars. There are benefits, however, to Park Forest residents and school districts. First, removing these inappropriate exemptions will help level the field for the taxpayers paying taxes levied by the Village of Park Forest. Second, School Districts 162, 162 and 227 should see an increase in the tax dollars received as the exemptions are lifted from these non-qualified properties.
"This initiative is solely related to the Village being taxpayer advocates," Mick said. "According to staff review, Homestead Exemptions range from $1,000 to $1,800 each year. Multiplying this by 982 equals a million dollars, and most likely more when factoring misapplied senior and/or senior freeze exemptions. This is a substantial amount of money being shifted in the tax distribution when it is realized that this million dollars and more will be re-allocated onto 10% of properties in the Village and taken from the existing burden of the 90% of properties."
The Village Manager says, on average, taxpayers previously in good standing with regard to exemptions could realize a $100 drop in the Village portion of their tax bills.