RFI in Action: Ethics and Equity Property Tax Town Hall

The recent revelation that an FBI sting caught a Cook County Board of Review employee counting thousands of dollars in alleged bribes in his car, saying he was going to “split [the cash] up between everybody” is a cinematic example of corruption in county government, but it’s certainly not the only one. Rather, it’s emblematic of deeper problems with ethical standards and oversight in Cook County government — problems that can have a tragic impact on our most vulnerable communities.

The Cook County Assessor is supposed to value properties and tax them fairly. The Board of Review and the state’s Property Tax Assessment Board (PTAB) were formed to provide an avenue for taxpayers to appeal those decisions, presenting cases of hardship, misinformation, or simple human error. But over the years, these additional layers of government have been criticized for lack of fairness in their decisions, and for the inequitable tax burdens they’ve imposed on communities of color.

Watch former Cook County Board of Ethics member and Injustice Watch Executive Director Juliet Sorensen, University of Chicago Center for Municipal Finance‘s Christopher Berry, and Blacks In Green‘s Naomi Davis discuss these issues in a conversation moderated by Reform for Illinois’ Alisa Kaplan and former Cook County Clerk and current RFI Board member David Orr.

The first in an ongoing series, we explore questions including:

  • What do the Board of Review and PTAB do, and how do their decisions affect you?
  • What has gone wrong at the Board of Review and PTAB, and why?
  • What is the impact of these offices’ decisions on equity and wealth-building in low-income areas?
  • What steps can the people of Cook County take to push County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to enact and enforce clear, common sense ethics policies in Cook County government?
  • Are all these layers of government providing value to the taxpayers of Illinois?

Click below to watch a recording of our September 2021 Property Tax Town Hall!




Reform for Illinois
1658 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(312) 436-1274
Contact Us