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Breaking Down the Ballot: Demystifying D39 and D97 Tax Hikes

Cook County Clerk's office and Patch help explain the ballot language.

With both the and lawsuits thrown out, Patch decided to take a look at the root of the dispute. The language in question is confusing, but with the help of Bill Vaselopulos, Manager of Tax Extension and Accounting at the Office of the Cook County Clerk, Patch breaks down key jargon:

What exactly is a limiting rate?

A limiting rate is a tax rate that Cook County clerks calculate each year in accordance with the tax cap law, also known as the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). It's called a limiting rate because it limits the amount that taxing districts like D39 and D97 are able to levy.

What does the limiting rate take into account?

The limiting rate reflects the amount of money the district is entitled to for any given year, and takes into account the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and any new property the district is allowed to access. The CPI and any new property are, said Vaselopulos, the only reasons why a district may increase its tax levy.

How does this pertain to the question posed to D39 and D97 voters?

The April 5th referendum asked that the limiting tax rate be 2.243 percent of the "equalized assessed value of taxable property." This would be an increase of .588 percent from last year's limiting rate of roughly 1.7 percent.

What is an "equalized assessed value of taxable property" (EAV)?

First, the term "state equalization factor" should be clarified. The state equalization factor, also called a state multiplier, makes sure that property assessment levels are the same across counties.

An EAV is calculated when the state equalization factor is applied to a property's assessed value.

How does the lawsuit fit into this?

According to the Taxpayers United of America (TUA) and Oak Park Township assessor Ali ElSaffar, the actual increase in property taxes on a $100,000 home should be over three times as much as the referendum stated. Instead of citing an increase of $58.80 per $100,000, the district should have multipled that tax amount by the state's equalization factor of 3.3701. This would amount to $198.16 per $100,000.

The lawsuit's merit will be determined June 23. Cook County Judge Rita Novak will hear  TUA’s motion for a temporary restraining order against D39 tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. in courtroom 2402 at the Daley Center in Chicago.

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