Assessor announces “benefits” that are illusory and meaningless, or will be discriminatory
Online PR News – 16-April-2020 – Chicago,IL – The Cook County Assessor’s office remains closed. And yet, the Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has
re-opened his calendar for appeals. While the Assessor proudly states that his office is “bending over
backwards” to keep on schedule, it is the Summer 2021 tax bill schedule he is trying to meet. He is neither
proposing nor offering any tax or assessment relief to the amount or the timing of the payment of the bills that
will be due this upcoming July 2020.
The Assessor is potentially endangering the lives of Cook County taxpayers for the bureaucratic
expediency of his office procedures. He is unilaterally expanding the authority of his office based on asserted
“emergency powers” where his office has none, and making pronouncements that are not helpful to the
The specific things the Assessor doing that are potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of the
citizenry, in violation of the law, or are meaningless, publicity seeking pronouncements are:
Potential harm to health and welfare of the citizenry
1. The Assessor has reopened his calendar, requiring filings for 9 townships to be made by no
later than May 1, 2020, or only one day after the current end date of the shelter-in-place.
2. Taxpayers believing they need an appraisal to support their case will be forced to either
increase their potential exposure to the Covid-19 virus by allowing an appraiser into their
property, or to forego an argument of valuation in their appeals.
3. By closing the Cook County offices to in person appeals, and allowing only on-line appeals, the
Assessor is discriminately forcing taxpayers that do not have access to the internet
(disproportionately those in the lower socio-economic scale) to either to forego their right to
appeal, or risk added exposure by venturing out of their shelter-in-place location to find a
public wi-fi location from which to file the appeal.
4. Vacancy, Assessor errors in description, and damage/destruction cases require an Assessor on-
site visit to confirm the allegations, increasing exposures to the taxpayer and the Cook County
5. The Assessor’s office is not an essential governmental function, and therefore its actions are in
violation of Executive Order 2020-10, issued March 20, 2020, and is therefore a per se
unnecessary endangering of public health.
Violations of the Law
1. Violation of Equal Protection Under the Law:
The Assessor stated he is issuing Covid-19 factored assessment notices for all properties in
Cook County, but he is not treating the properties in all townships equally.
a. Townships not previously opened or mailed will have 35 days to file appeals;
b. The nine townships already opened for filing or mailed (Riverside, River Forest, Oak
Park, Palos, Rogers Park, Evanston Barrington, Norwood Park and New Trier) will have
only until May 1 st to appeal changes in value due to Covid-19, or only 21 days;
c. The Assessor has stated he will be issuing a reassessment Covid discount to all still to
be reassessed townships, but will only be “applying” an overriding Covid discount to
the currently open townships only after those townships are closed for appeals.
d. This creates a double standard. If your property is in a not yet open township, you can
appeal the “discount” as insufficient; however, if your property is in a currently open
township, you are 100% reliant upon the largess of the Assessor’s “discounting.”
2. Illinois Statute 35 ILCS 200/9-85 states all taxpayers have a right to appeal their proposed
assessments after the Assessor assesses their property. However, the Assessor wrote an email
to his employees stating “after the appeal process window is closed and after our analysts
have completed appeals it that township, all property owners in that township will receive a
mailing with their property’s adjusted final value.” Any taxpayer receiving their first notice of a
Covid adjusted assessment “after our analysts have completed appeals in that township” are
denied their statutory right to appeal.
3. See number 5 above.
Assessor announced “benefits” are either illusionary and meaningless, or discriminatory
The Assessor is either giving a uniform change to all properties in a taxing district, or he is giving varying
reductions to varying properties as he unilaterally decides.
1. If the reductions are uniform in the percent of the reduction, the announced reductions will be
illusionary and meaningless. The amount of the taxes to be collected from a taxing district is defined by
the levy; the assessments of the individual only effect the distribution of the collection. Any universal
uniform decease in all assessments in a taxing district will cause a corresponding increase in the tax
rate in a taxing district.
2. If he is issuing varying reductions in a township “after the appeal window has closed and after our
analysts have completed appeals in that township,” all final assessments should be questioned for
their potential discriminatory or individually favorable effects.
3. A mailing of a meaningless, publicity seeking announcement of “reductions” to all property owners in
the county will cost the county over $500,000 of monies desperately needed and better focused on
the county health systems.
Assessor Fritz Kaegi is greatly expanding his authority beyond this statutorily granted powers, and asserting it
is appropriate to do so in the name of “emergency police powers.” But the Assessor is granted no emergency
police powers under the law. Rather, what Assessor Kaegi is doing is executing on Rahm Emmanuel’s first law
of politics, which states: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Gary H. Smith
Law Offices of Gary H. Smith, P.C.
205 West Wacker, Suite 510
Chicago, Il 60606