Daley, Houlihan Call on House to Pass Assessment Cap

December 16, 2006

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Cook County Assessor James M. Houlihan
today called on the Illinois House of Representatives to pass
legislation protecting homeowners from steep increases in their
property taxes based on rising assessments.
At a City Hall news conference, the two officials called on the
House to approve a Senate-passed bill extending the 7 percent cap on
the annual increase in the taxable value of property. The original cap
was enacted in 2004 at the urging of Daley and Houlihan.
"That law has kept property taxes stable since 2002, even though the
average assessment rose 32 percent," Daley said. "But the law expires
this year. If the General Assembly fails to renew it, property taxes
could begin increasing by double-digit percentages as they have in the
"The strong real estate market will result in dramatic assessment
increases in many areas throughout the city this year and in suburban
Cook County when they are next reassessed," Houlihan said. "The 7
percent expanded exemption has brought predictability to tax bills and
allowed residents to remain in their homes. It has provided real
savings and has not reduced funds available to education, nor
overburdened business owners in the process." 
Daley and Houlihan are backing Senate Bill 2691, sponsored by Sen.
Terry Link of Vernon Hills, which passed the Senate last week. It
extends the 7 percent cap, up to a maximum exemption of $60,000 of
assessed value. The current law has a $20,000 exemption cap.
According to Daley and Houlihan, a home assessed at $150,000 in 2002
had a $4,052 tax bill that year. If SB 2691 passes, the tax bill will
drop to $3,997 next year. If the bill doesn't pass, the tax bill will
rise to $5,465, a difference of $1,468.
The first reassessment notices will be mailed out later this month
and are expected to show that the taxable value of the average home has
increased 41 percent over the last three years.
Daley called on the House to pass the bill during the current
session to make sure the 7 percent cap applies to tax bills that go out
next year, after the current reassessment has taken effect.
If the lawmakers delay, Daley said, "it will only increase anxiety
and make it difficult for homeowners to plan their household budgets.
It will be especially difficult for those who need our help the most
seniors, long-time residents and low-income families."
Daley and Houlihan also called on the General Assembly to reform the
state's educational finance and property assessment systems.
"Illinois relies much too heavily on local property taxes to fund
education, and as a result there are huge disparities in educational
spending between rich and poor school districts," he said. "And that
results in huge disparities in educational opportunity. Everyone has
been aware of this problem for many years. It's time we did something
about it."
Houlihan said. "It is critical that we have the 7 percent provision
in place to protect homeowners while we address a flawed tax system
that relies too heavily on property taxes to fund education."