FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008 DA1I.V HERAM) SKCTION 1 PliOC 3 Local Focus Statoftlieday Number of seats along the tracks at the historic Choo Choo Restaurant in Des Plaines, where the food is served via model trains. There are 45 seats total in the diner. Source: thechoochoo.com Extreme close-up Can you guess what this is? See Page 17 tor the answer. Today's quote "Maybe I should sell. I didn't know I was in such a great house." Kane County homeowner Terry Burns F3 review reflects easier access BY SUSAN SARKAUSKAS ssarkmiskns®<tailyheratd.r(nn The books are closed on the review of the 2007 Kane County property-tax assess- rnent. ''" And owners of nearly 1,600 properties complained about increases and mistakes, an amount almost double from last year. But county Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong is confident the assessment and appeal system worked for taxpayers. Armstrong sent the certified copy of the tax year 2007 assessments to the county clerk Tuesday. The clerk then calculates the property taxes owed, and the county treasurer sends out the tax bills. The treasurer aims to send bills out by May 1. Armstrong said the number of complaints filed didn't surprise him, for two reasons. . "Considering that it was a general reassessment year... I was actually expecting more," he said. In a general reassessment, which is done every four years, every property is reassessed. So people whose property hasn't been assessed in tiiree years might be in for ashock. It's also the first year that he posted the appeals forms on the county Web site. Previously, a taxpayer had to write to the office to get a copy of the form, or visit the Kane County Government Center in Geneva. Of the 1,599 considered by the Board of Review, 696 were on residential parcels containing one to four dwelling units. And of those, 59 percent received a reduction. That's the same percentage as the 2006 tax year, Armstrong said. The median reduction was $11,168 of assessed valuation. "The system does work," he said. For the rest of the properties, including farmland and commercial, 37 percent got a reduction. "The homeowners had a much better time before the board," Armstrong said. The Board of Review looks for accuracy in the property's description (for example, if an assessor incorrectly thinks you have a finished basement), and uniformity in comparison to other properties in your neighborhood. It might also take into account any appraisals you have had done. "I do not know that anything is really terribly out of line," he said. Nobody in Virgil or Kaneville townships filed a complaint. While each are large townships, with 21,851 acres and 22,054 respectively, they only have a total of 2,398 parcels, with large rural areas. In contrast Geneva Township, the smallest of the 16 townships with 4,975 acres, has 11,331 parcels. Technically, the board of review was supposed to have What happens when you appeal your assessment BY SUSAN SARKAUSKAS There's not a lot of pomp and pageantry in a hearing before the Kane County Board of Review when you appeal your property-tax assessment. It's you, the township assessor, a recording secretary and the three board members all sitting around a table in a small conference room at the Supervisor of Assessment's office. Hearings are scheduled for every 15 minutes, in sessions that began Oct. 29 and ended March 5. There are three permanent review members, and 1 1 alternates. On Feb. 27, appraiser John R. Voreis chaired the morning hearing, with alternates Don Wolfe (a county board member) and Carol Schoen- gart also voting. Property information was projected by computer onto a white wall. A property owner on Glen- ended Dec. 31. But township assessors turn their books in late, Armstrong said, to make sure as many new parcels as possible get on the rolls. And some, such as Rutland, haven't added staff to their assessor's offices, even though they are dealing with tremendous growth due to new subdivisions. Tax bills go out May 1. If Riding into spring RICK WEST/rwcsKwda ilylittrald.com A bicyclist takes advantage of sun and temperatures in the 50s by going for a ride along the Fox River Thursday through Island Park in Geneva. Fox Valley in 60 seconds Easter Bunny coming soon: The South Elgin parks and recreation department will welcome the Easter Bunny March 22 for a morning breakfast and a visit with children. In addition to food and drinks, each child will receive an instant picture with the bunny, along with treats. Breakfast will be from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Municipal Annex, 1 W. State St. The cost for families of four is $20 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. Each additional family member is $4. All participants must register by today by calling (847) 622-0003. St. Charles roadside check: Police will conduct roadside Safety checks in St. Charles tonight. Illinois State Police and St. Charles police will be checking for drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, transporting open alcohol or driving unsafe vehicles. The program is funded through a federal grant. Seven earn tenure at ECC: Seven full-time instructors at Local deaths • James A. Murphy, 80, of North Aurora, formerly of Geneva and West Chicago • Lorraine Curran, of Geneva • RickD.Thielking,52, of St. Charles • John T.Hernandez, 90, of South Elgin For complete obituaries, see Business. Elgin Community College were given tenure at Tuesday's meeting of the college's board of trustees. They are: Janet Flynn, Michelle Brynelsen and Karen Taylor of the nursing department; Joseph Rosenfeld in human services; Steve Trail in chemistry; Armando Trejo in library services; and Joel Peck of the art department. Their tenure is effective in August. ECC faculty members are eligible for tenure after being employed for three consecutive school years. Their evaluation, reviewed by the dean and the tenure committees, is based on overall performance. Youth symphony to start: The Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra will perform its first concert of the year on Sunday. Two performances of "Inspire — Sacred Music for Symphony" are slated, for 4 and 7 p.m. at the Blizzard Theatre in the Elgin Community College Arts Center, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. Tickets are $19 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for students. Tickets can be purchased by phone (847) 622-0300, or online at www.elgin.edu/arts. Saturday volunteers sought: Christ Community Church in St. Charles is seeking volunteers to participate in its monthly 2nd Saturday program. Volunteers are needed to sort food donations, visit nursing homes and spend time with severely disabled people. Volunteers can get involved by going to one of the church's three locations in St. Charles, DeKalb and Blackberry Creek by 8:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month for transportation to a work site. Activities last until noon. Call (630) 485-3371 or go to www.cccjjfe.org. wood Drive in St. Charles said there were inequalities in how the vacant land on her property was treated, compared to others near her. Geneva Township assessor Aubrey Pratte defended his assessment, noting die property she cited was located in a floodplain, making it less valuable. The other properties she cited were not in her neighborhood, so the board refused to consider them. "I moved out here thinking I could afford to live here," she told the board. "We can't grant a reduction on personal circumstances," Voreis said later. After rejecting her appeal, Wolfe thanked her and said "I'm sorry." She replied, "I won't be able to stay here very long." On another home, Pratte agreed it should be lowered because the properly did not have a garage, unlike comparable homes in the neighborhood. The board took $2,000 off the assessed value of the building portion, knocking it to $56,726. "That's fine. That makes me very happy," said Mary Riipi. Another woman, in the Geneva East subdivision, got a reduction because her house does not have a fireplace, even though the assessor's records showed she did. But the board denied her request for an adjustment on the value of her land. One complainant was angered by the process because he wasn't allowed to postpone the hearing to get more evidence than what he had already submitted in his application, or submit an analysis he had done of properties in a wider area than his assessment neighborhood. Nor would the board access, or allow him to access, the county or the township's property-information Web sites at that time to get infor- mation to make his point, even though he had brought along a laptop computer. "Am I going to get railroaded out of this?" he asked. Property owners are free to appeal the board's decision to the state property tax appeal board, each was told. That board conducts hearings in Kane County. Even people in the business of levying taxes are sometimes shocked by their increases in their property-tax assess- ments.Kevin and Terry Burns of Geneva were on the docket. Yes, that Burns, the mayor of Geneva. The assessed value on their house at 746 Lincoln Ave. had gone up 30 percent between tax years 2006 and 2007. Terry Burns presented their case, as the mayor was out of town on business. And they were denied. "Maybe I should sell," she said, laughing. "I didn't know I was in such a great house." the county sends out tax bills late, tax receipts are then late, which means taxing bodies might end up borrowing money to get by until they get their checks. This, of course, costs interest. Armstrong understands homeowners' frustrations, as they hear reports everyday about slumping home sales and rising foreclosures. The 2007 tax year assessment is a snapshot of the value of properties as of Jan. 1, 2007, and takes into account sales prices in 2004,2005 and 2006. In January 2007, the Illinois Association of Realtors reported that the median sales price was the same as it had been the year before, at $200,000. For January 2008, the median home price had declined 5.3 percent, the Realtors said. SPA & POOL EXPO AT THE CfUCAGOUUID FLOWER &GJUIDEN SHOW This Weekend March 14,15 & 16 Fri. 9:30am-8pm • Sat. & Sun. 9:30am-6pm DONALD E. STEPHENS CONVENTION CENTER, ROSEMONT ^|P" >^ •*&,%, V=*-*Av? ^ MS* w is «h* «^ . w^ . 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