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We endorse Larecia Tucker for Cook County Board of Review

Cook County’s property tax system is a source of anxiety for many homeowners, particularly in the less-well-off southern part of the county where the burden is highest, on average.

Determining the fair value of homes and businesses is critical to making the system as fair as possible. It’s the Cook County assessor’s job to assess those values. It’s the job of the less well-known Cook County Board of Review to hear and rule on the appeals of property owners when they think their assessments are too high. Successful appeals require the support of at least two of the three commissioners.

The board is divided into three districts, and Larry Rogers Jr.’s 3rd District encompasses much of Chicago’s West and South sides, as well as most of the south suburbs. Rogers, a commissioner since 2004, is running for reelection. His challenger is Larecia Tucker, who works in the Rich Township assessor’s office as a clerk and has lived in the south suburbs all her life.

This is the first time Rogers — who has the endorsement of powerful local Democrats such as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin — has faced a challenge since joining the board. We’re pleased 3rd District voters have a choice at last, and we endorse Tucker, who we think will bring to the job a fresh outlook and a support for much-needed reform.

Rogers, an attorney, is engaged in a proxy war of sorts with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, who has attempted to bring a more consistent approach to valuing commercial property than his predecessor, Joe Berrios. Rogers has disagreed with Kaegi’s methods and urged the lowering of commercial values in numerous instances.

The success of commercial property owners, who frequently turn to lawyers to challenge their assessments, in lowering their valuations leads to higher bills for residential taxpayers. Property taxes are a zero-sum game because taxing bodies get the levies they approve regardless of how individual properties are valued. Assessments determine how much each property owner contributes to those amounts. Fairness is everything.

Rogers argues that Kaegi doesn’t do enough to take into account the income commercial properties generate after their costs are accounted for and instead puts too much weight on recent sales of similar properties in the vicinity.

The issues get thornier because the majority of the donations financing Rogers’ campaigns comes from property tax attorneys and others who represent commercial landowners before the board. The practice, though legal, has raised ethical concerns. Rogers ardently defends doing so, saying they don’t influence his decisions, and has countered that Kaegi is personally financing Rogers’ challenger. That, he says, is a fundamental conflict of interest given that it’s the Board of Review’s job to rule on appeals challenging the assessor’s work.

Tucker says she hasn’t — and won’t — accept donations from property tax lawyers.

We agree with Kaegi’s view that more predictability is desperately needed in Cook County’s property tax system, although we share the concerns of commercial property owners over how that’s occurred at times in practice. Be they residential or commercial folks, we see a lot of property owners’ hard-earned cash needlessly siphoned off and into the pockets of lawyers.

Tucker, too, shares Kaegi’s goal. But she makes clear that the income commercial properties generate should enter into Board of Review judgments as well. “If the assessor only looks at the recent sale, that’s not correct,” she says. “You have to take both of them into account.”

She’s clearly qualified, working in an assessor’s office and having obtained the Certified Illinois Assessing Officer designation. She was a real estate agent in her previous career.

Another issue in the 3rd District is the relative lack of residential appeals compared to the two other districts. Cook County’s property tax system is so byzantine that homeowners are well advised to appeal their assessments routinely. That 3rd District residents do so in low numbers ends up inflating their already-high tax bills even more. We think Tucker — as someone forced to sell her Park Forest home in 2012 due to property tax bills she couldn’t afford — will do more to get the word out to homeowners in the district.

All that said, we take Rogers’ point that Kaegi’s outsize financial backing of his opponent is a matter of concern. We expect Tucker to take pains to demonstrate her independence from the assessor if she should win the seat.

But the need for change and progress on making the county’s property tax system fairer and more predictable is our overriding concern.

Larecia Tucker has our endorsement.

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Disclaimer: This article has been generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and may not be 100% accurate or reflect the human point of view. The published images are not generated by AI. The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. It is recommended to verify the accuracy of the data and consult experts in case of doubts or need for specific information. We are not responsible for any damage, loss or injury that may result from the use of this information.

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