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Lake County board ask Rauner not to sign assessor bill

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on July 18, 2018 at 3:55 PM

Lake County board ask Rauner not to sign assessor bill

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media — July 18, 2018

The Lake County Board approved a resolution requesting Gov. Bruce Rauner to use his amendatory veto power and not sign a bill forwarding a binding referendum question that would turn the county’s Chief Assessment Official into an elected position, rather than one of appointment. The 14-5 vote, with two absentees, came during the July 10 board meeting, after public comment from residents and several township assessors.


Senate Bill 2544, which passed both houses, awaits signature by Rauner. The legislation seeks to place a referendum question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot asking Lake County voters whether the CCAO should become an elected position. If passed, it would become effective November 2020.


The resolution states, in part, “Currently, approximately 60 of 102 counties in Illinois select its County Board Chairman and appoint the CCAO in the same manner as Lake County. However, SB 2544 applies only to Lake County in violation of the state constitutional prohibition against special legislation. Similar to the positions of County Engineer and County Auditor, the CCAO is one of the most technical in county government that requires significant qualifications.


“Following public input at both the June 27 Ad Hoc Legislative Committee (3-2 vote) and Financial and Administrative Committee (unanimous vote) meetings, respectively, both bodies moved to support a County Board resolution requesting that Rauner exercise his amendatory veto power on SB 2544.”


Since 2003, the CCAO is Martin Paulson, who has an M.B.A. and M.S. degree, according to the county website. His office was also the defendant in two civil lawsuits initiated by county township assessors over the alleged disregard of their valuation assessments, resulting in blanket tax rate increases.


Several county township assessors appeared at the board meeting and included several that were litigants in the civil actions. Grant Township Assessor Jeri Barr later said, of speaking at the board session, “At the first committee meeting, District 12 member S. Michael Rummel said ‘we have to stand up for our employees,’ referring to Mr. Paulson … and I said he should be standing up for his constituents, the voters.”


Barr later said Paulson has reversed the submitted valuations in Grant Township for three consecutive years with increases of 7 percent (2016), 9 percent 2017), and 8 percent (2018).


“The Lake County judges dismissed our cases because they said we, the township assessors, had no standing,” she said. “Isn’t this about protecting the ability to appoint? I think the board came up with a lot of excuses for not letting the voters decide this.”


The five board members voting against the resolution were Paul Frank (District 11) Vance Wyatt (District 14), Sandy Hart (District 13), Jeff Werfel (District 6), and Judy Martini (District 5).


“I think what happened in Cook County was a good thing,” said Hart, in her statement. “Just because it’s an elected position doesn’t mean there will be an impact from campaign contributions, if the referendum were to pass. As a member of the board, I do agree with giving voters an opportunity to vote, and I will be voting against this resolution.”


The Cook County Assessor’s Office was compelled by the Illinois Appellate Court’s First District judges to disclose its valuation methodology for residential, commercial and industrial properties in a June 29 ruling.


The Cook County Assessor Democratic nominee, Fritz Kaegi, noted, in a statement, “An Illinois appellate court ruled that the Cook County Assessor’s Office must be transparent in its methodology and practices for valuing residential, commercial and industrial property. This unanimous decision affirms that the public has a right to know.”


District 10 board member Charles Bartels said, “If you look at the assessor, he is the primary value setter for property, and changing this position would be a good idea … if only to get people to go out, and vote. I think, unfortunately, they sold this as a tax bill. It’s like, ‘let’s hire a new coroner because there will be less accidents.’”


The bi-partisan sponsors of the bill included Democrats Sen. Terry Link (30th, Gurnee), Sen. Cristina Castro (22nd, Elgin), Sen. Thomas Cullerton (23rd, Villa Park), Sen Dan McConchie (26th, Lake Zurich), Rep. Sam Yingling (62nd, Round Lake Beach), Rep. Rita Mayfield (60th, Waukegan), Rep. Carol Sente (59th, Buffalo Grove), and Republican Rep. David McSweeney (52nd, Cary).


The legislation was sent to Rauner’s office June 29, although no timetable for signatory authorization has been issued.



–Lake County board ask Rauner not to sign assessor bill–

Categories: Lake County Board