New Cook County property tax site is a must-see

The new Cook County Property Tax Portal has gone live, providing easy online access to a variety of property tax information through a single website.

The site is the result of cooperation among the elected county officials who take part in the property tax system.

The aspect of the site with the greatest impact is likely to be the access it affords to financial statements from the more than 500 agencies that levy property taxes in Cook County municipalities.

According to a recent news release from Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas:

The known collective debt of governments in Cook County has risen to $140 billion, according to the latest figures provided by the office of County Treasurer Maria Pappas. Property owners now can see on the Cook County Property Tax Portal how much of their money goes to each government that taxes them, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today.

Pappas issued a new report showing the latest figures compiled from data submitted by local county governments in response to the Debt Disclosure Ordinance, which Pappas helped pass before the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Pappas reported today that 489 of 553 primary taxing agencies submitted data for 2011, and their known total debt was at least $140 billion, an increase of $32 billion from 2010. On a per-household basis, debt is $87,720 for Chicago and $35,774 for the suburbs, Pappas said.

Access to increasingly accurate information about the financial condition and debt levels of various taxing bodies and municipalities is likely to have a strong impact on real estate values as home buyers, builders, property owners and investors focus on the implications of that information.

Will real estate buyer agents take advantage of this opportunity to analyze the data and counsel their clients that some suburbs may be facing the choice between sharply rising property taxes or severe reductions in services? This seems to be an area in which highly-skilled professionals can perform a real service for their clients.

Real estate professionals have long offered CMAs to their clients – comparative market analyses – sketching the likely value of individual properties. The new CMA might be a Comparative Misrule Analysis detailing the likely impact of the taxing bodies a property is subject to when compared to similar property in different jurisdictions.

What are the implications for Chicago of per-household debt that's at least 2.27 times the city's median household income?

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