Cook County treasurer closes office ‘indefinitely,’ while assessor closes offices to the public due to coronavirus concerns

Maria Pappas closed her office at noon Friday. Fritz Kaegi closed his downtown and suburban branch offices to the public “until further notice.”

SHARE Cook County treasurer closes office ‘indefinitely,’ while assessor closes offices to the public due to coronavirus concerns
County Treasurer Maria Pappas

County Treasurer Maria Pappas

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Two Cook County offices closed Friday due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Treasurer Maria Pappas closed her office at noon Friday citing a need to “safeguard” taxpayers and employees. Assessor Fritz Kaegi decided to shutter his downtown and suburban branch offices to the public “until further notice.”

“The work of our office, as well as that of the Clerk, Treasurer and Board of Review, ensures local governmental bodies have the funds and resources to serve the public in a crisis like this,” Kaegi said in a statement. “Therefore, we will put all available resources toward online, phone, and other remote services to meet the need for uninterrupted service. Our hard-working and dedicated staff members will continue to report to work as they are able.”

Property owners can file exemptions and appeals on the assessor’s website. All public outreach events have been canceled through May 1.

For Pappas, the move means protecting her workers and the public.

“We have not had a case of the coronavirus in our office, and I want to keep it that way,” Pappas said in her statement. “While it is of surpassing importance to protect our employees and visitors to the building from this virus, it is important to continue serving taxpayers.”

Employees in the treasurer’s office will work remotely to collect tax payments, issue refunds and perform some other duties of the office.

Other county offices are still developing policies as they handle concerns about the virus.

Carl Vogel, spokesman for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said the district is “discussing options for working remotely due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, but we have not yet set a policy as we consider factors such as our many employees whose jobs are primarily outdoors in the preserves.”

“We are encouraging remote meetings and being clear that any employee who feels sick should stay home,” Vogel said in a statement.

The move comes a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a joint news conference urging people to stay home and work remotely if possible.

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