In a Zoom meeting with property owners last week, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi suggested that Evanston’s high property taxes were in part to blame on the Cook County Board of Review granting appeals for reductions to commercial properties in downtown Chicago.

First of all, as the Assessor surely knows, Evanston’s assessments are unaffected by a reduction in Chicago. They are in different real estate markets. Assessment practice compares Evanston properties to Evanston properties.

Furthermore, unlike the Assessor’s office, our job is to look at each individual appeal that comes before us on a case-by-case basis. We do not systematically grant appeals to one kind of property owner over another, and the data backs that up.

Last year the Board granted reductions to 56% of the commercial cases and 56% of the residential cases. We also granted reductions to 56% of the cases filed without attorneys and 53% to those with attorneys. We’ve worked hard to make the Board fair, balanced and transparent, and our data is open to the public.

The Assessor’s job is to value properties, and in the meeting last week he acknowledged that he doesn't have enough personnel, his technology is old and some of his data are bad, making it difficult to make correct assessments 100 percent of the time. We sympathize with these issues since the Board of Review went through an extensive modernization effort in the last five years that has made our office fully digitized and transparent.

Nevertheless, when the Assessor gets it wrong, it is our job at the Board of Review to hear the case for appeal, and if necessary grant a reduction.

We encourage all Evanston property owners who think they’ve been over-assessed to contact our office.

Michael M. Cabonargi, Commissioner of the Board of Review; Larry R. Rogers Jr., Commissioner of the Board of Review; Dan Patlak, Commissioner of the Board of Review