(Chicago) – April 13, 2012. Special Report: In the wake of previous aborted attempts to streamline the administrative apparatus of Cook County’s property tax system, a top county lawmaker is rolling out another proposal for a county panel vote on Tuesday.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) is pushing a plan to create the Cook County Office of Tax Administration to coordinate the multiple moving parts of the county’s tax system.
According to Suffredin, the plan, which he is sponsoring as a county board resolution, would call on the various elected county officials whose offices manage some aspect of property tax processing to draft an “interoffice agreement” within 60 days on how to implement the new tax administration office and present their plan to the board.
The interoffice agreement would be among the County Treasurer, Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, Assessor, and now the State’s Attorney and would to streamline property tax services and provide a single point of entry for taxpayers.
Suffredin said the launch of the county’s property tax Web site portal provide an impetus to the plan.
“I got the idea after the new county property tax Web site was created,” said Suffredin.
The commissioner added the idea also follows on an earlier legislative effort with then-commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) and State Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago) in 2004-05 to seek a Cook County property tax streamlining solution in the Illinois General Assembly, but that initiative stalled.
Suffredin had pledged to introduce the tax administrator plan after a $1 million cost-savings initiative, pushed by fellow County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-Chicago), to merge the offices of Recorder of Deeds and Clerk failed by one vote, 9-8, in March 2012.
Suffredin voted against that measure. He argued that the December 5, 2016 implementation date made the Fritchey plan “virtually irrelevant.”
Cook County Clerk David Orr offered a non-committal response to Suffredin’s plan but endorsed the principle of greater government “efficiency.”
“Since you called, I learned that Larry Suffredin is going to be changing his proposal to ask the relevant officials to meet to discuss the idea of a tax administrator and/or if one could work,” Orr wrote in response to this publication’s inquiry.
“I haven’t seen the new proposal yet, so I cannot really comment on it–although I am always looking for ways for government to be more efficient.”
Suffredin said he has made only technical changes to the plan.
County Assessor Joseph Berrios was also cool to the proposal.
“At this point, this is a resolution to bring the offices together to sit down and discuss the issue,” said Berrios. “This is a conversation that we will obviously be taking part in. Where it goes, though, remains to be seen.”
If the officials fail to draft an agreement, Suffredin said, “We would need to evaluate our next steps.” The commissioner noted pointedly that the board retains power over office-holder budgets.
In addition to Suffredin, commissioners John Daley, Bridget Gainer, Gregg Goslin, Tim Schneider, and Peter Silvestri are also sponsoring the resolution. Fritchey is not.
The Intergovernmental Relations Committee meets in the county board room on Tuesday, April 17, at 12:00 p.m. to vote on the measure.
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