If you’re a property owner, you know the anxiety that comes with receiving your proposed property value assessment notice from the Cook County Assessor’s Office. This year, as Evanston becomes only the second community to be fully reassessed by a new Cook County Assessor, opening that letter may be particularly stressful.

In December, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi took office with a promise to deliver changes to the property assessment process, indicating he plans to move toward a “mark to market” model to more accurately reflect property values. That change could mean higher property tax bills next year in Evanston and other North Shore communities, where assessments have often been 75 to 80 percent of actual market values. 

Cook County properties are reassessed every three years as part of the Triennial Reassessment. The proposed assessment property owners receive this month as part of that process will be reflected in 2019 Second Installment tax bills, payable Aug. 1, 2020.

While it’s unclear at this time exactly how Evanston property tax bills will be impacted, here’s what we do know:

· The Cook County Assessor’s Office anticipates mailing out assessment notices to Evanston property owners on March 15.

· There may be significant adjustments to the proposed 2019 assessed value of your property and thus the amount of property taxes you will owe for the 2019 tax year, payable in 2020.

·  Should you wish to appeal the assessed value of your property, you will have 30 days from the date on your notice to appeal to the Cook County Assessor’s Office. This can be done online, by mail, or in person at the Cook County Assessor’s Office. 

The City’s Property Tax Assessment Review Office can assist Evanston property owners with filing property tax assessment appeals. To take advantage of this free service, you must make an appointment by calling or texting 847-448-4311 after receiving your assessment letter. You can also sign an appeal authorization form in lieu of visiting the office; a sign-up link will be available at cityofevanston.org by March 15.

Property owners should also check to make sure they’re receiving all the exemptions they qualify for, as this will help reduce tax bill amounts. The Cook County Assessor is still accepting applications for 2018 Homeowner, Senior, Senior Freeze, Disabled Persons and Disabled Veterans Exemptions.

As Evanston begins to receive assessment notices, it’s important to remember that everyone in our community, from those who own properties to those who rent, is affected. Even though anxiety may be high when opening your letter in the coming weeks, the City is here to help answer questions and assist with filing an appeal if you choose to do so.

Mr. Deignan is Communications Manager, City of Evanston.