In December, Republicans in Congress passed a federal tax bill that, starting this year, will cap state and local tax deductions at $10,000 annually. This is expected to put a big hurt on homeowners who exceed $10,000 in property-tax payments, and there are many such homeowners in Cook County.
Within days of the bill’s passage, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas set up an online system so people could prepay their 2018 property-tax bills. It was quick and easy — two words we don’t often use when talking about government.
The county collected more than $750 million in pre-payments, and many of the 126,000 homeowners who prepaid are expected to get a bigger federal tax break for 2017. It was a credit to Pappas, who has made the treasurer’s office leaner and more efficient in the last 20 years.
Pappas shows no signs of slowing down, and we endorse her for another term.
Her opponent, accountant Peter Gariepy, says Pappas should have done more to call out unfair property-tax assessments by county Assessor Joe Berrios. Until recently, many of the 17 county board commissioners, Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Pappas were silent about a shabby practice that penalized homeowners in working-class communities.
All county officials, including Pappas, should wield their influence against Berrios. The assessor’s office is an embarrassment.
That said, Pappas is doing a good deal right as treasurer. When other county leaders warned of layoffs once a repeal of the soda tax was certain, Pappas said her office was on firm ground. She said she could cut 12 percent of her budget without layoffs. She also opposed that regressive soda tax, by the way, from the get-go.
We agree with Gariepy on one other point: Pappas has a dress code for her employees that requires female employees to wear smocks over their clothes while men get by wearing white shirts and ties. That isn’t right. It should be smocks all around or no smocks at all.
When Democrats running for Cook County treasurer visited the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board on Feb. 22, we asked each to introduce themselves to voters. Watch Treasurer Maria Pappas’ response:
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