The clock is ticking for property owners who want to challenge their tax assessments in two DeKalb County townships.
Assessed values, which are used to calculate individual property tax bills, were published for Sycamore and Sandwich townships Sept. 18, while officials expect values for the rest of DeKalb County to be published soon. Property owners have 30 days from the publish date to appeal the assessed property value.
To determine if your assessment is accurate, the first step is to call your local township assessor, Chief County Assessment Officer Robin Brunschon said. This person will work with you to make sure the information about your property is correct and can show you similar properties in your neighborhood.
Sycamore Township Assessor Kevin Schnetzler said that if you have recently had your property appraised, or if you can find three similar homes that have assessed values lower that yours, he can make the change to avoid you having to file a formal appeal.
If the township assessor declines to change the assessment, the next step is to file an appeal with the Board of Review and Appeals. Forms should be mailed to the DeKalb County Assessment Office at 110 E. Sycamore St., Sycamore, IL 60178. Forms are also available inside the office.
DeKalb Township Assessor John Hietikko acknowledged that the appeal process can seem daunting to new property owners, but he said his office is willing to assist owners through the appeal.
“Generally, we prefer them to come into the office as opposed to a phone call,” he said. “We’ll pull their property record card and look for similar properties. I hate to say it, but there are a lot of people who just don’t like their assessment. There’s no reason for it. They just don’t like it.”
In recent years, there have hundreds of assessment appeals in DeKalb County. Historically, appeals haven’t totaled more than 100 a year, but in 2011 there were a record 461 assessment appeals. In 2012, the number dropped slightly to 301, and Brunschon expects 2013 to be similar, if not to have slightly fewer.
Brunschon said the housing crisis in 2008 saw home values plummet and property tax rates rise, and although those two measures aren’t a direct indicator of property assessments, it had many people up in arms about their property tax bills.
“Nobody anticipated something like this happening,” she said. “Investing in real estate was a good investment until all this happened in our county. There are some signs of improvement. I am optimistic. You can see more building going on. That will help, too.”