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Oak Park Can Reduce the Residential Property Tax Burden Without Cutting Services


Most of us moved to Oak Park–or back to Oak Park–for the schools, for the parks, or for the Village’s longtime commitment to diversity. But many residents have become increasingly worried about high property taxes. High property taxes impact affordability for both owners and renters and ultimately make it more difficult for Oak Park to continue to be the diverse Village it strives to be.

This typically ends in a zero-sum struggle between those who think that Oak Park’s various taxing bodies should invest in climate change or safer streets and those who think that we should be cutting taxes or, at most, keeping taxes steady to reduce the burden on residents. 
The issue, unfortunately, is that the largest buildings in Oak Park are not paying their fair share. Instead, buildings like Vantage, which is owned by Goldman Sachs and Magnolia Capital, are able to get their assessments reduced from about $90 million to $54 million by the Board of Review on appeal. The owners of the Vantage are increasing their profits by increasing the property tax bill of every resident in Oak Park. The Board of Review appeal by the Vantage building increased the property tax bill of every $500,000 single family home by more than $50.

The same story plays out across the Village. The Cook County Assessor’s Office found that 27% of assessed value in Oak Park was in commercial properties or large apartment buildings. When the dust settled on the appeals process, the Board of Review had shaved that down to just 21% of assessed value.



There is something that the Village of Oak Park can do. The Village can lead an effort, in partnership with the other taxing bodies in Oak Park, to ensure that the largest developments in Oak Park pay their fair share. The taxing bodies can, and should, intervene before the Board of Review and challenge the appeals of the largest buildings in Oak Park. 
The Cook County Assessor’s office stands ready to assist with these efforts. Based on a recent conversation with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, his office is focused on partnering with taxing bodies to support these kinds of cooperative efforts to intervene before the Board of Review. Oak Park can be a leader in these efforts and begin to provide meaningful tax relief to our residents.
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"I am pleased to endorse Brian Straw for Oak Park Village Trustee. Brian is a thought leader in tax fairness and equity, and his ingenuity and sound ideas will benefit everyone living in Oak Park. He understands the math and, more importantly, is dedicated to reducing the burden on average homeowners and small businesses who for too long have paid more than their fair share. And I know that Brian will be a good steward of Oak Park residents' tax dollars and ensure that they are spent in a manner consistent with our shared progressive values."

- Fritz Kaegi, Cook County Assessor

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