Cook County Commissioners Urge Stakeholder Unity not Finger Pointing to Deal with August Tax Bill Delay
Cook County Commissioners Finance And Technology Committees
Joint Meeting on April 25, 2022
The special meeting was held at the urging of Commissioner Sean Morrison to bring the key stakeholders together to get their commitment to work together on getting the 2nd installment tax bills out no later than mid-November 2022. Key were the chair of the Board of Review, the Chief of Staff of the Assessor’s Office, and the Chief Information Office, Bureau of Technology (BOT). The County Clerk’s Chief of Staff and Treasurer also provided comments.
Board of Review (BOR): Chair Larry Rogers stated he just received two days ago the remaining 70% of the required assessment information that his office needs to begin the appeal process for the 2021 assessments; that it will take his office 4-5 months at the earliest to process the appeals and get the information to the Clerk’s office to calculate the tax bill; which then goes to the Treasurer for printing, mailing, and collection. Mr. Rogers stated that his office ran largely by paper until 2015 when it converted to a digital appeal processing system [not the Tyler Platform]. He emphasized that he ran a parallel paper system to work out problems before relying solely on the digital platform. The BOR is not on the new Tyler System.
Assessor's Office (OA): The Chief of Staff, Sarah Resnick, who stated that she takes full responsibility for steering the input of property assessment data to the new Tyler Platform, stopped the parallel input of underlying data such as square footage to the decades old Mainframe Platform in July of 2021 after finding that the transfer of detailed data was almost impossible between the systems causing many errors and re-inputs. The Mainframe is the platform that the Board of Review has used for decades to obtain the needed information from the Assessor. The Chief of Staff contacted the BOR and the BOT to ask that they all work together to find a solution. A successful interface was developed, but it is the reason for the delay; and it was done without the BOR. In the meantime, the underlying information was already on the Tyler system; and the interface was offered to the BOR in September of 2021. However, it would require training of BOR technicians by the Assessor’s office; and the BOR declined, saying it has to be independent of the Assessor’s office.
Bureau of Technology (BOT): Tom Lynch was questioned as to his recommendation to run a parallel system between the new Tyler and the old Mainframe. He said he did make the recommendation. When asked if it was impossible to input the underlying data from Tyler to the Mainframe, he said it would be very difficult but not impossible. He also stated that the BOR was not included in the transition to the Tyler Platform as were all the other Stakeholders because the BOR used a 2015 Platform that was modern. He noted that not all systems can be replaced at the same time and that the best practice is to stagger rollouts. He said the “legacy system” which is the mainframe has to be retired. He also said that the interface is working.
Suggestions by Comm. Sean Morrison include: Increase Overtime; increase hearing staff; use retired staff on a contract basis; determine if an estimated tax bill for 2nd installment is possible. The Clerk’s Chief of Staff said that this is not a likely legal option but that he would investigate further.
Comm. Daley: Asked Mr. Rogers if the vast majority of bills can go out and the remaining that have been appealed go out later. Answer: No. The BOR needs one finite set of data. He did state that it is a good idea to bring former employees back under contract. However, with more help and more overtime, he does not believe that the five month delay in receiving the data can be made up. Daley also asked the Clerk’s chief of staff to contact the Finance Chief to see what can done to provide loans to small municipal taxing bodies if they are unable to get a bank loan.
Comm. Degnan: Encouraged BOR to get off the legacy mainframe platform so that the current issue doesn’t perpetuate.
Comm. Lowry: Asked if all three Stakeholders agreed that the 2nd installment tax bills can be out in mid-November. Answer: Yes, it is possible; but no guarantee. The Assessor’s office also stated that if it can get the information back from BOR in time, it can then meet the 2023 deadlines.
Comm. Britton: Asked if township assessors and assistant assessors could be trained to help the BOD process appeals. Answer: Would need the same system training as a new hire.
Several other Commissioners also commented or asked questions, all of which were duplicates of what is covered above.
There were six Public Speakers Representing the Following Organizations:
The Chicago Chamber of Commerce Illinois Realtors local Government Affairs Office
Western Spring’s Park District Palos Fire Protection Force,
Scofield Fire Department Building Owners and Managers Association
All were concerned about the delay in mailing the 2021 2nd Installment Tax Bills and its effect on their constituents and vulnerable Cook County homeowners.
Observer: Diane Edmundson
Individual authors are credited at the end of each post.