(Chicago) – April 19, 2012. Special Report: Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) on Tuesday won approval by a county board panel for a plan to create the Cook County Office of Tax Administration to coordinate the multi-layered county tax system.
According to Suffredin, the plan, which he sponsored as a county board resolution, calls on the various elected county officials whose offices manage some aspect of property tax processing to draft an “interoffice agreement” within 60 days on how to implement the new tax administration office and present their plan to the board.
The interoffice agreement would be among the County Treasurer, Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, Assessor, and now the State’s Attorney and would to streamline property tax services and provide a single point of entry for taxpayers.
The Cook County Intergovernmental Relations Committee approved the proposal on a 13-0 voice vote.
Suffredin said the launch of the county’s property tax Web site portal provide an impetus to the plan.
“I got the idea after the new county property tax Web site was created,” said Suffredin.
The commissioner added the idea also follows on an earlier legislative effort with then-commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) and State Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago) in 2004-05 to seek a Cook County property tax streamlining solution in the Illinois General Assembly, but that initiative stalled.
Suffredin had pledged to introduce the tax administrator plan after a $1 million cost-savings initiative, pushed by fellow County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-Chicago), to merge the offices of Recorder of Deeds and Clerk failed by one vote, 9-8, in March 2012.
Suffredin voted against that measure. He argued that the December 5, 2016 implementation date made the plan “virtually irrelevant.”
County Assessor Joseph Berrios had a measured response to the Suffredin proposal.
“At this point, this is a resolution to bring the offices together to sit down and discuss the issue,” said Berrios. “This is a conversation that we will obviously be taking part in. Where it goes, though, remains to be seen.”
If the officials fail to draft an agreement, Suffredin said, “We would need to evaluate our next steps.” The commissioner noted that the board retains power over office-holder budgets.
In addition to Suffredin, commissioners John Daley, Bridget Gainer, Gregg Goslin, Tim Schneider, and Peter Silvestri also sponsored the resolution.
The full board is expected to adopt the measure at its May 1, 2012 meeting.