Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Residents voice concerns about assessments

Diane Moshman can’t be sure about her future in Evanston.

“I like living in Evanston, but I don’t think I can grow old here,” said Moshman, married with two children, who has been living in Evanston for 15 years.

After this year’s property tax assessments in the north/northwest suburbs, Moshman’s property value, like those of other Evanston residents, has increased dramatically. The 40 percent increase in her assessment likely will raise her property taxes by a higher percentage than in the past. She said her last three reassessment increased by about 9 percent each time.

About 30 residents arrived Saturday morning at Evanston’s Civic Center to file an appeal of their with representatives from the Cook County Assessor’s Office. Some said they felt frustrated and helpless over the perceived unfairness of the assessments, and clueless about how the county came up with the new figures.

“I think it’s unfair,” said Tyrone Coleman, a resident of southeast evanston. His home is one of four similar homes in his neighborhood, but when his home was assessed at a higher value, he decided to appeal.

Adam Downing, a spokesman for county assessor James M. Houlihan, said a situation such as Coleman’s is one of the best grounds a property owner has to make an appeal and one of the reasons the county provided officials to assist residents with their appeals at Saturday’s taxpayer reachout.

“We’re encouraging people to provide information so we can review their assessments and verify that they’re fair and accurate,” said John Fallon, a special assistant to the county assessor.

The prospect of a tax increase of any kind doesn’t surprise Evanston residents, but Moshman said she was alarmed that increases are so much more than what she expected.

“You can handle cost-of-living kind of increases, but these kind of increases hurt,” she said.

Although those some residents argued that location was a factor, the home’s neighborhood is not how the county assessor’s office assesses property values, said Evanston Township assessor Sharon Eckersall. The office places a value on each property in a third of Cook County every three years based on the median selling price of similar properties within the last period.

Properties are grouped according to square footage, age and number of floors. Assessments increase by the same percentage that the median selling price increases, and a higher assessment means higher property taxes, said Fallon.

The median sale price for properties in Evanston has increased from $230,000 in 1998 to $300,000 in 2001, said Downing.

The deadline for filing appeals has passed, but people will be able to file an appeal again in August with the Cook County Board of Review at its satellite offices in Skokie or Rolling Meadows or at the main office in Chicago.

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Residents voice concerns about assessments