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Cook County logo. WTIP file photo
WTIP file photo

Cook County Board sets preliminary levy increase of just over four percent

Affordable housing, property taxes, the 2021 budget and the future of how county government operates through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic were among the key talking points during a busy meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 22.

During this week’s meeting, the commissioners agreed to set the 2021 preliminary levy at an increase of just over four percent from 2020. The 4.16 percent increase in the levy cannot exceed this amount when a final levy is set later this year, though it can be lowered.

There was a lengthy discussion about the impact on local taxpayers by raising the levy by more than four percent. To alleviate some of the pressure on local taxpayers, Board Chair Myron Bursheim said he would like to see the preliminary levy lower as many in the county face financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In related news, Auditor Braidy Powers and Assessor Bob Thompson both explained during Tuesday’s meeting that a levy increase of just over four percent could still mean a decline in the amount of taxes owed for most Cook County taxpayers. Barring an increase in the property value for any given property, an expanded tax capacity across the county means the county will have to collect less from individual property owners, they explained. Bursheim said a lower levy would mean increased savings for local taxpayers, a notion the other commissioners agreed with and understood while again noting that preliminary levy can be lowered, but not raised.

Also regarding the 2021 budget, a Truth in Taxation meeting was set for Dec. 1. The commissioners will have a conversation before the end of November regarding the setting and format for this year’s Truth in Taxation meeting as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to show no signs of slowing down heading into the winter months.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Interim County Administrator Rena Rogers about these topics and other county news. The audio to their conversation can be found below.