Fritz Kaegi was sworn in as the new Cook County Assessor Monday, December 3rd. Kaegi, who won overwhelming approval in the November 6th general election, announced orders for an outside professional audit and ethics reforms to make the assessor's office more efficient and transparent.
Getting reliable market data will be at the core of improving the system, Kaegi said. The assessor's office will be "reconstructing the data we have and building new models." Kaegi intends to put his entire computerized assessment model online. "People will be able to look at it all, line by line."
Kaegi says he'd also like to move away from self-reported business renditions for commercial properties and move toward new state legislation that relies on the annual submission of rental income data from Taxpayer's IRS Schedule E (1040 - Supplemental Income and Loss Statement) when appeals are filed. "The current system is wickedly unpredictable and variable," he said. "Reducing risk (via a less arbitrary system) is the most important thing you can do."
Following ethics charges against the former administration, Kaegi assessor promises "a complete transformation," which will include a written ethics policy addressing conflicts of interest, limits on gift and entertaining, and other hiring measures to increase confidence in the office."
Analysts believe Kaegi can help make the assessor's office more transparent than it was. However, there are some things that an assessor can't control - like soaring tax rates. It's unlikely that the problem of continuing taxpayer complaints will be completely solved by the new regime.
As always, POER stands ready to help ensure that you pay only your fair share of property taxes. We welcome the new assessor and look forward to working with his staff to achieve an improved system for Cook County taxpayers.