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After months of delay, property tax bills will be available next week for Cook County

A monthslong delay in the mailing of Cook County property tax bills has been resolved: Bills will be posted online as soon as Tuesday, mailed by Dec. 1 and due by Dec. 30.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, who is responsible for sending out the bills and collecting payment, told the Tribune her team is running tests this weekend to post bills Tuesday, “assuming there’s no glitches,” or Wednesday.

“Everybody wants to know” what their bill will look like, Pappas said, especially commercial property owners fretting about the first reassessment of the City of Chicago under Assessor Fritz Kaegi.

Taxpayers will be able to download their bill to print and mail their payment in, pay online at the Treasurer’s website, at Chase bank branches or at the Treasurer’s office downtown.

Thursday’s announcement closes one chapter in the conflict between Kaegi, whose office assigns values to each property in the county, and the Board of Review, which hears appeals to those assessments. The news also makes good on a pledge from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to get bills out early enough so residents could count their payment on their 2022 tax returns.

In an emailed statement, Preckwinkle said she was “grateful” to the separately elected officials who worked to ensure bills would be due before the end of the year. Her office has for the past several months served as a go-between with the various officials responsible for getting bills sent out.

“My office remains committed to providing resources and leadership needed so the separately elected officials can fulfill their responsibilities to all Cook County residents. … We will continue to provide that leadership to help ensure each stakeholder in the property tax system is able to fulfill their duties to the citizens of Cook County moving forward,” the Preckwinkle statement said.

Bills are typically due by Aug.1. But Preckwinkle suggested earlier this fall in an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board that the conditions that led to this year’s delay were not yet resolved, and delays could continue for the next “two years.”

Pappas has similarly been frustrated at the delay, describing the situation in a WGN interview last month as a “fiasco” that “jams up all the other agencies.”

The delays affect both property owners and taxing bodies unable to pay for ongoing operations.

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To make sure that taxpayers could take full advantage of the federal, state and local deduction on their 2022 federal income taxes, Preckwinkle promised bills would land before year’s end. The delay also created headaches for real estate agents trying to finalize home sales, who could not estimate what final bills — and therefore closing costs — might be.

To help taxing bodies like towns and villages, library, school and park districts pay for operations during the delay, Preckwinkle launched a $300 million bridge loan program for the county’s most cash-strapped districts. The interest-free loans would help pay for operations prevent taxing bodies from having to take out costlier loans in the market.

But only 49 taxing bodies applied for the loans, asking for just over $100 million. In the end, only 22 taxing bodies received loans, totaling just over $39 million. Most were eliminated due to ineligibility, a spokesman for the county’s Bureau of Finance.

The city of Chicago and its taxing bodies, including Chicago Public Schools, were ineligible for the program.

Kaegi and Board of Review member Larry Rogers Jr. publicly disagreed about the cause of the delays. Kaegi said the Board had not cooperated in bridging a data gap made during a technological upgrade to the Assessor’s outdated computer system. Rogers said Kaegi’s office should have used a parallel system with both new and old technology to avoid the snafu, and broadly criticized his tenure as the “worst” of the 20 years he’d served on the board.

Democrats Preckwinkle, Pappas, Rogers and Kaegi all won re-election in Tuesday’s election. But two members of the Board of Review will be brand new: Chicago Ald. George Cardenas, who is resigning from City Council for the new post, and Samantha Steele. Both ran unopposed on Tuesday.

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