PILSEN — Hundreds of Pilsen residents demanded an explanation and solution for the exorbitant property tax increases they’re facing at a meeting Wednesday night.
Community groups hosted a meeting for neighbors to get updates and solutions from Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and Board of Review Commissioner George Cardenas, who represent offices that deal with property taxes.
Kaegi and Cardenas, who previously served as 12 Ward alderman, pledged to do everything in their power to help people retroactively file for exemptions or appeal assessments at workshops.
The workshops are planned:
- 6 p.m. Tuesday at Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood St., with the Board of Review’s Office.
- 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 11 at St. Paul Church, 2127 W. 22nd Place, with the Assessor’s Office.
- 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 16 at Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton St., with the Assessor’s Office.
- 3-7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Road, with the Assessor’s Office.
The two officials also promised to join Pilsen community leaders in efforts to change property tax legislation at the state level, including by expanding certain exemptions.
“I’m going to help my people,” Cardenas said. He pledged “to make sure that you pay not one cent more than you should pay.”
Kaegi said he hopes to raise awareness about exemptions people are eligible for, like living in the building you own, being a senior or older person making less than $65,000.
But some residents asked why Pilsen homes were assessed at such a high value and why more isn’t being done to stop longtime neighbors from being displaced as the neighborhood gentrifies.
Residents have staged rallies since late last year demanding action from city and county officials after homeowners were slapped with sky-high property tax increases. Over a dozen people protested in the Cook County Assessor’s Office in January to ask Kaegi to meet with Pilsen neighbors.
Chicago homeowners shouldered the tax burden last year despite Kaegi’s efforts to level the playing field after his predecessor’s assessments were proven to be inaccurate and unfair.
In this latest round of assessments under Kaegi, homeowners in rapidly gentrifying working-class neighborhoods such as Pilsen, Avondale and Rogers Park were hit the hardest, according to an analysis by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office.
RELATED: Longtime Residents In Gentrifying Areas Battle Huge Property Tax Increases: ‘We Don’t Want To Leave’
Assessor’s Office officials have said it is only one of the government offices that plays a role in determining property taxes. Others, like the Cook County Board of Review, also affect it, he said.
Kaegi has said repeatedly that lowered assessments on large commercial properties Downtown was a large factor in why homeowners saw their bills jump. The Board of Review reversed recommendations made by the Assessor’s office to shift the tax burden back onto homeowners, Kaegi said.
Leaders from both offices have pointed fingers at the other about who is most to blame for the high bills, the Tribune’s A.D. Quig reported in November.
Because Cardenas and Commissioner Samantha Steele are new to the Board of Review after last year’s election, they have a chance to keep Kaegi’s recommended assessment the same, he said.
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