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reasons why IL and Cook County deserve a modern data collection system  — and way to support it

Imagine how long it takes to sort through all these boxes in search of data points you need. Now imagine a better, modern way of getting what you need. That’s what SB 1379 would do.

Today, Assessors in each of Illinois’ 102 counties are forced to determine the value of income-producing properties without access to actual market data. It’s a paper-driven system for a digital world.

It doesn’t have to be this way, which is why the Cook County Assessor’s Office supports SB 1379, the Data Modernization Bill, the first legislative step toward meaningful property tax reform.

SB 1379, which passed the Illinois Senate in a bipartisan 36–16–1 vote, gives the Cook County Assessor’s Office the ability to collect operating income and expense data for income-generating properties.

This week, SB 1379 is up for a vote in the Illinois House Revenue Committee, a crucial step on its way to passage in the full House.

The time to support a more modern approach to commercial assessments is now. You can show your support for this bill by filing a witness slip as a “proponent” for SB 1379.

Before we tell you how to do that, here are nine reasons why we think you should:

1. It will help us accurately assess the South Suburbs.

Next year, our office re-assesses the South Suburbs. Unfortunately, data on commercial properties in the South Suburbs is lacking, which could lead to inaccurate assessments. Communities which have already experienced financial challenges need SB 1379 to make their assessments more equitable, which is why the South Suburban Mayors & Managers and the Cook County Board of Commissioners support SB 1379. Our chief sponsors, Senator Toi Hutchinson and Assistant Majority Leader Will Davis, represent the south suburbs.

2. Many property owners already submit income and expense data.

When they appeal, property owners submit their IRS Schedule E to the Cook County Board of Review. SB 1379 would require submitting this data at the beginning of the assessment process, not near the end. Knowing this information at the beginning of the assessment process will allow for assessments that are more fair, accurate and transparent.

3. Smaller properties are exempt, including owner-occupied properties.

Many properties are exempted, including commercial properties with a market value under $400,000, and residential properties with 6 or fewer units or market value $1 million or less.

4. Submitted data is secure and confidential.

The bill specifically mandates confidentiality throughout the process, and only allows disclosure after data is anonymized and compiled at a market level.

5. All of Illinois could benefit from this change.

Upon passage, this data modernization practice will become automatic in Cook County and allow counties throughout Illinois to opt-in to this practice, which is why it has the support of the County Assessment Officers Association and IL Assessors’ Association.

6. It closes leaks in municipal budgets.

More accurate assessments will mean fewer refunds from municipal budgets after appeals. More financial stability is part of the reason why the Illinois County Treasurers’ Association, the Illinois Association of County Officials Township and many school districts all support SB 1379.

7. It’s good for neighborhoods.

Transparent assessment methodology and better data will encourage investment in less-familiar asset classes and neighborhoods, giving a boost to places that need it most. The need for neighborhood investment is why Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Metropolitan Planning Council (MPV), the Community Renewal Society, Community Investment Corporation and Latin United Community Housing Association support SB 1379.

8. It’s good for business.

Using improved data will help eliminate uncertainty and hidden costs in the current system that deter institutional investment and weaken our local economy. Real estate market participants agree, which is why many of them support SB 1379: Brookfield Properties’ Retail Group (owner of Water Tower Place), International Council of Shopping Centers, David Carlins of Magellan Development Group,; Michael Alter of Alter Group; Harry Huzenis of Jameson Commercial Real Estate, Jerry Ong of Jupiter Realty and BMO Harris Bank.

9. Cook County and Illinois deserve this common-sense, professional, reform-driven practice.

Collected income and expense information for assessments is a process used in at least 17 other states, including Florida and Virginia, and in major cities, including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Seattle. Crain’s Chicago Business and Chicago Tribune both endorse SB 1379 in the name of making our assessment system more fair, accurate and transparent.

It’s time to reform the system. Here’s how to join all the people and organizations above in support of SB 1379 by filing a witness slip as a proponent of SB 1379.

The full text of the bill is available here.

Your witness slip can be filed as a record of appearance only as a proponent and does not require any write up.

To file an electronic witness slip:

  • Click this link which will take you directly to the Witness Slip form
  • In the “Identification” section, input your identifying information
  • In the “Representation” section, input the name of any organization you are representing; if you are supporting this in your individual capacity, write “Self”
  • In the “Position section, for “Description” select “Proponent” for “Original Bill”
  • In the “Testimony” section, click “Record of Appearance Only”
  • Complete the Captcha code
  • At the bottom, check the “I Agree to the ILGA Terms of Agreement box” and
  • Lastly, to submit your witness slip, you must click “Create Slip.”

Thanks for your support of property tax reform in Cook County. When we get every assessment right, everyone benefits. Together.

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