Residents of Riverside Township received an eye-opener a few weeks ago when they received property reassessment notices from the Cook County Assessor. Property assessments rose an average of 35.6 percent since 2002, the last time the township was assessed.

“We’re seeing changes of anywhere between 30 to 40 percent in the market value and assessed valuation of homes,” said Riverside Township Assessor Schofield Gross. “The new values are based upon what similar homes in the same area are being sold for.”

Riverside Township includes all of Riverside, the Hollywood section of Brookfield and North Riverside east of 9th Avenue. According to Gross, homeowners won’t see the effect of the reassessment until the second tax bill installment of 2006 since property taxes are paid one year in arrears.

Gross also indicated that just because a home’s market value has increased by 35 percent doesn’t mean that property taxes will increase by the same number.

“When the assessment goes up, the tax rate comes down,” Gross said.

In addition, 2005 marks the first year a new Cook County law kicks in, which limits the amount property assessments can increase to 7 percent
per year.

Property in Cook County townships are reassessed every three years, and homeowners throughout much of the county have seen property values skyrocket in recent years, often well above the new 7 percent mark.

According to Gross, the median sale price for homes within Riverside Township in 2001 was $238,000. By 2004, the median sale price had risen to $313,250, or a 31-percent increase. Gross did not have similar numbers available for each community within Riverside Township.

While property assessments in 2005 look to have exceeded that 7 percent-per-year ceiling, a change in the way Homeowner Exemptions are applied will offset any assessment increase over 21 percent during a three-year period.

The new law increases the Homeowner Exemption amount from $5,000 to a maximum of $20,000 in Equalized Assessed Value. The amount of the exemption will vary based on the value of the home and the amount of the assessment increase.

Despite the 7-percent law, which was meant to soften the blow to taxpayers, Gross said that since he began accepting applications, 90 homeowners throughout the township have already appealed their new assessments. Cook County will continue accepting applications for assessment appeals until June 27.

Residents of Proviso Township in Brookfield and North Riverside can expect to receive their reassessment notices some time after Aug. 24. Meanwhile, Brookfield residents living in Lyons Township, can expect reassessment notices after Sept. 8.