Progress on tax process

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Property assessments have been received, appeals have been handled and the state has issued an official multiplier.

Now, Monroe County is waiting for the county clerk’s office to complete the fourth of five steps in the tax bill process.

In this fourth step, the county clerk is currently considering the amount of money each district requested to determine how much property taxation dollars each district will receive. 

Columbia School District 4 and Waterloo School District 5 are the two entities that will receive the most funding from property tax collection. As of press time, Columbia School District is projected to receive over $16 million and Waterloo a little less than $22 million. 

For the 2019 tax year, Columbia School District’s figure was $15,361,483.27 and Waterloo’s was $21,194,598.96. 

Monroe County Treasurer/Collector Kevin Koenigstein said in order to determine this, the county clerk must make sure these values fit within the appropriate Property Tax Extension Limitation Law range and consider maximum rates for individual funds. 

Because Monroe is a PTELL county, “it can’t raise taxes greater than the amount of inflation as determined by the Illinois Department of Revenue,” Koenigstein said.

Under PTELL, Monroe County can raise its tax amount by 2.3 percent this year. The county has seen approximately 1.33 percent in new growth, meaning this is the percentage of new property allowed to be taxed this tax cycle. In total, Monroe County could request a 3.6 percent increase in property taxation. However, Koenigstein said the county will probably only increase taxes by 2 percent this year. 

Once this step is complete, Koenigstein’s office will begin to determine how much each parcel will owe for this property tax cycle based on the assessed evaluation of their property. The Republic-Times will publish the tax rates for each municipality as they become available. 

Because Koenigstein has not yet been able to start this final step in the property tax process, he cannot give definitive due dates. As of press time, he said he is hoping to be able to have tax bills sent out in late August. If this projection is correct, Monroe County residents’ first installment will most likely be due in late September, and the second one in early November. 

Koenigstein said the county will send out over 19,000 property tax bills, and the total amount of tax dollars Monroe County will collect will be almost $66 million. Once this sum is collected, Koenigstein will distribute it among districts. 

Progress made

The assessor’s office concluded making their assessments earlier this year, with results being published in the March 17 edition of the Republic-Times. The county is divided into quadrants for assessment purposes, with a different quadrant being assessed each year. 

The 2020 assessment year, which is what the property tax bills payable this year reflect, focused on the Columbia-area quadrant.

Monroe County Supervisor of Assessments Carl Wuertz explained residential and commercial properties are assessed at one-third of what he believes their market value is. 

When assessing property values, property is grouped into what Wuertz calls “neighborhood categories,” and Wuertz examines what other homes in that class have sold for over the prior three years to determine each individual home’s value. 

For instance, the recent 2020 assessment year’s figures were based on sales from 2019, 2018 and 2017. 

“Every home is assigned a neighborhood number, which pretty much defines where it’s located at, what year it was built and what story height it is,” Wuertz said. “If you have two 1970 ranches sitting right next to each other, their assessment is going to change about the same every year. But, if your 1979 home is sitting right next door to a 1980 (home), you’re in two different neighborhoods.” 

Farmland is assessed differently. It is assessed based on its soil type and corresponding productivity index number. Each PI number corresponds to a dollar amount per acre of assessment. A somewhat recent change in legislation explains why some Monroe County farmers are seeing large increases in their property values. 

In 1986, the Farmland Assessment Act was amended so that fluctuations in PI values could not exceed 10 percent. Eventually, this produced a large gap between the highest and lowest yielding soils, which was not necessarily reflective of the values based on yields. Wuertz explained this required a change.

“To save the integrity of the Farmland Assessment Act, legislators changed the way farmland is adjusted,” Wuertz said. “Instead of adding a maximum of 10 percent to each individual PI number, whatever (10 percent) of the median (PI’s) value will be added to each individual PI.” 

Visit the “Why did Farmland Assessments Increase” under the “forms” section of the county assessor’s website for a more detailed explanation of this change. 

If a taxpayer believes their property assessment is too high, they can present evidence to the Board of Review, which consists of three members who are not employed by the assessor’s office. 

Wuertz said this year there were approximately 500 docket numbers, which include instances of office corrections, home improvement exemptions and complaints. Wuertz said there is no way of knowing how many of these dockets were appeals, nor how many assessments were successfully appealed. 

As what Wuertz dubbed “complaint season” continued, the state technically began the process of determining the county’s multiplier. This figure compares the market value of property to its assessed value. 

“Whenever I certify my assessments, we have a tentative abstract that goes through the Department of Revenue for review and a tentative multiplier. The Illinois Department of Revenue works on the tentative multiplier while the board of review is in assessment complaint season,” Wuertz said. “Once the board of review has made all of its final changes in the assessment, then the final abstract is sent to the Illinois Department of Revenue for the final multiplier.” 

Monroe County recently received its final multiplier, which is 1.83 percent. The multiplier ensures that each county in a multi-county district carries what the state considers an adequate share of the taxing burden based on property values within it, Koenigstein said. 

“In the last few years, this county has had a positive state multiplier,” Wuertz said. “What that pretty much says is the Department of Revenue thinks my assessments are too low, so they’re going to raise it even higher before taxes are calculated.” 

The Republic-Times will provide updates as the property tax process continues. 

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