GENEVA – Mark D. Armstrong, supervisor of assessments for Kane County, asked a pair of volunteers to find the assessments of State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, and Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen from the 60-plus page assessment publication of Kane County Township, Aurora.
He made the request during a Legislative Breakfast on March 12 in Geneva.
Armstrong offered the volunteers $1 if they could find at least one and $5 if they could find both. They gave up before finding either and Armstrong kept his cash.
What Armstrong was trying to prove is that the printed assessment publication is extremely difficult to weed your way through to find information. It’s also expensive to tax payers to publish annually. Furthermore, that information is much easier to access online so why would it even need to be published?
Armstrong held a letter in his hand that he explained was sent to every person included in the assessment publication and that the same information in the list is already in the letter. It includes the name of the person who owns the property along with the parcel number and the assessment amount.
“Why would we be publishing this list if everyone on the list got the letter?” he said. “The theory is this way taxpayers can find the information about other property owners, which is a great thing by the way because you should be able to look, but how can you find it on a list that goes 64 pages long?”
He said the solution is online at kanecountyassessments.org.
“You can look it up by yourself and once you look it up, you can look up any assessment in the county that way,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s very difficult to navigate through the list.”
HB 5244 Property Tax – Assessment Publication is sponsored by LaVia and amends the Property Tax Code. It provides that beginning in the 2017 valuation year, publication of an individual listing of assessment in a newspaper, such as the Kane County Chronicle, would not be required for each parcel which meets the requirements for an individual notification if a list is published on a county-controlled website.
This isn’t the first time Armstrong has advocated for this kind of change. As a member of the County Assessment Officers Association of Illinois in 2011, the group fell short of eliminating the state law requiring the newspaper publication of assessment changes.
Armstrong stated that the aforementioned assessment publication cost $28,000 alone and that over $360,000 was spent on such publications during the most recent four-year period.
Several other laws Kane County is advocating for were also shared among the local state representatives, senators and others in attendance.
A few also shared their thoughts about the disheartening opioid epidemic.
Speaking on behalf of U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, who wasn’t in attendance, was Maria Manzo who explained that Kane County isn’t immune to this killer.
“It’s a nationwide problem, and I don’t have to tell anybody here that,” she said. “Opioids kill more people per year than have died in the Vietnam War so it definitely is a crisis.”
Manzo said that as the only PhD physicist in Congress, Foster continues to promote research and development in science and that it’s crucial to study addiction and how the brain develops.