Saturday, April 25, 2015

Elimination of 18 Township Assessors saves 4.4 Mil.

Elimination of the 18 Township Assessors in Lake County will save a projected 4.4 million out of the current 10.2 million in Lake County Assessment Costs to our taxpayers. A recent report released to the RRL Committee of the Lake County Board by staff projected a Centralized Assessment System, operated by Lake County, would provide value uniformity, accuracy, local customer service, and cost reduction from a current average of $32/parcel to a projected $22.27/parcel (4.4 Million in savings). Link to April 8th presentation at RRL.

This study was based on surveying the best practices and award winning assessment systems nationwide and comparing them to our current 18 Township Assessor/Lake County system. The results were clear that our current township assessment system is old, archaic, and simply a waste of taxpayer money. The conversion to a Centralized Assessment System is usually legislated statewide such as Indiana in 2009 (Indiana policy examination enclosed in our Lake County report). Lake County is positioned well to operate a Centralized Assessment System because of our current and advanced networked appraisal system. For this reason I have suggested that Lake County be a county pilot program for the State of Illinois.

Short history of this process is that during our 2013 budget discussions I had asked our Chief Assessor if we had the best practice for assessments in Lake County? The answer was NO. In 2014 I asked and was given unanimous support from our RRL (Revenue, Records, and Legislation) Committee to have staff research the assessment issue for best practices and report back to committee. The released April 2015 report verifies this government waste and demonstrates how we can consolidate government, eliminate 18 assessors and units of government, and provide a much better assessment system for Lake County residents.

Challenges: Politics, political structures, and political relationships will be a huge hurtle to moving forward with this reform. As this process aligns with the re-election of 2/3rds of the Lake County Board my fellow members are feeling the heat. I am sure our County Board will stand up to the political pressure and fight for our residents. Our State legislators Ed Sullivan  (Assessor and State Representative), Sen. Melinda Bush, Sen. Terry Link, and my Sen. Julie Morrison have all demonstrated support to me for reforming the system and eliminating Township Assessors.

Process: I am hoping that myself and other board members will meet with our Township Assessors and Supervisors to discuss and flush out how we can best serve our citizens on this matter. We need open, transparent, frank, and constructive dialog to trim government waste and provide the best ideas on a transformation to a Centralized Assessment System . I would also look to provide employment opportunities for many township employees that would be displaced into our Lake County government. Working with Supervisors, we could provide satellite places for citizens to have local assessment contacts. After some initial discussions with stakeholders the plan is to return to RRL for further direction. Diane Hewitt, Chairman of RRL has been very helpful in facilitating this process. I am also looking forward to the engagement of our elected officials and government organizations throughout Lake County to increase communications and provide important feedback to our County Board. Over this summer I will be working with our State Legislators and fellow County Board Members to support legislation that will enable elimination of the 18 Township Assessors. In this legislation we will need to also eliminate the Assessor part of the Township tax levy and transfer the needed portion of the levy to the County to realize the 4.4 million in taxpayer relief and support the centralized assessment system.

While this is not an easy task, it can be done if the County Board members stand up for our citizens and work with our State legislators to eliminate these wasteful units of government. Please contact me at 8474566933 or email at for more information or if you wish to help.