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Editorial: Look over your assessment

Recently, the Lake County assessor released the assessed values of properties in Grant and Wauconda townships and ran the information in Lake County Suburban Life.

As any homeowner around here knows, property taxes are a big deal. In 2009, Forbes magazine reported that Lake County had the highest property taxes in the Midwest and 17th nationally.

Residents in Grant and Wauconda townships have until Sept. 15 to appeal their assessments. Look over yours carefully. Compare it to nearby houses. If you bought your house in recent times, make sure the assessment isn't higher than the sales price.

Township assessors, who come up with the values of properties, can make mistakes, so you should not assume your assessment is correct. 

But keep in mind that assessors are only part of the process in determining your tax bill.

As the Lake County assessor noted with its listings, "the assessment roll recording the values of property determines only the distribution of the total tax burden among individual property owners." 

The assessor, as such, has no involvement in the amount of taxes levied. That's the responsibility of the multitude of taxing bodies that we have in Illinois (more than any other state, by the way), so that's why the public needs to take its watchdog role seriously.

If these agencies are hiking their employees' pay at a time when private sector salaries are stagnant and housing prices are falling, you may want to voice your concern. Otherwise, expect to be hit with higher tax bills.

While you should examine your assessments, it's also important to hold these taxing bodies accountable.

For questions about the appeals process, call the Board of Review office at 847-377-2100.

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