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Dan Patlak, Cook County Board of Review 1st District Republican nominee profile

He has been a Board of Review commissioner since 2010.

Dan Patlak, Cook County Board of Review 1st District Commissioner Republican nominee and incumbent, 2020 election candidate questionnaire
Dan Patlak, Cook County Board of Review 1st District Republican nominee and incumbent.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Candidate profile

Dan Patlak

Running for: Commissioner, Cook County Board of Review

Political party affiliation: Republican

Political/civic background:

  • Served as a Commissioner at the Board of Review since 2010
  • Wheeling Township Assessor from 2006-2010
  • Analyst at the Board specializing in residential, commercial apartment and exempt properties 1999-2006.
  • Represented the Board at over 500 Property Tax Appeal Board Hearings
  • Certified Illinois Assessing Officer
  • Graduate of the Real Estate Institute
  • Real Estate Broker since 1986
  • Member Citizens Against Government Waste
  • Member International Association of Assessing Officers
  • Member of National and Illinois Association of Realtors
  • 4th Degree Knight of Columbus
  • Parishioner and Lector at St. Joseph the Worker Church

Occupation: Full time commissioner at the Cook County Board of Review

Education:

  • B.S. Business Administration with Concentration in Finance-Valparaiso University
  • Graduate of the Real Estate Institute
  • Certified Illinois Assessing Officer
  • Licensed Real Estate Broker

Campaign website: ElectPatlak.com

Facebook: Citizens to Elect Dan Patlak


As the Cook County assessor moves to make assessments more transparent and reduce the need for appeals, as he has pledged to do, what will you do to reduce the overhead in your office?

In 2007, 125,000 appeals were filed at the Board of Review. This past year, following the triennial reassessment of the northern suburbs by the new Assessor, a record number 253,000 appeals were filed at the Board of Review. The Board has been able to keep up with this 100% + increase in appeals and continue to get tax bills out by the statutorily required date by improving management, training and technology while only increasing personal by a small fraction of the increase in appeals.

Unprecedented efficiency improvements have been centered around our award-winning Digital Appeals Processing System (DAPS), originally rolled out in 2015 and upgraded every subsequent year. DAPS eliminated paper files and thus review, transportation and storage of paper files at the Board. Now our analysts review evidence on a monitor, type their decisions directly into our data base and transport files with a touch of a button. This has saved over two million pieces of paper each year and has freed up storage space that had been necessary to store five years-worth of paper files (now stored electronically) which is required by law. The DAPS makes it easy for appellants to upload their evidence while creating their own personal permanent electronic file where they can interact with the Board and check analyst notes after their appeal has been adjudicated. When a Board decision is ready, appellants who create an account in our system are notified by E-mail to check their account for the decision, thus eliminating the need, cost and time to mail a decision letter. DAPS has made it possible to monitor and thus better manage the quality and quantity of work done by our analysts on a daily basis. Without this improvement, head count at the Board would need to be much higher in order to adjudicate appeal filings that have doubled in the past twelve years and which show no sign of decreasing.

The Board of Review historically has been described as a body that greases squeaky wheels — people who file appeals — rather than working more generally to be an arbiter of uniformity in assessments. What’s your view of the board’s proper role?

The Board’s role as determined by state statute, is to impartially adjudicate property assessment appeals from aggrieved property owners who believe they have been wrongly assessed. We do that by objectively reviewing evidence submitted by appellants as well as information we have at our disposal about a particular property in order to come to a just decision.

In the past, people who were dissatisfied with a ruling from the Board of Review could go to court to appeal that decision but had to prove “constructive fraud” —that there had been fraud or gross error in making the original assessment. That standard has been made less stringent. Has this been a change for the better, or has it resulted in too many baseless court appeals? Please explain.

Property owners have a right to expect accurate assessment of their property. I do not believe they should need to prove that fraud or gross error occurred in their original assessment in order to receive relief. Therefore, the change in the standard is justified.

Are there too many or few avenues of appeals — the county assessor’s office, the Board of Review, the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board, the courts — available to property owners? In your view, which avenues should exist?

After a property owner avails themselves of their right to appeal at the Assessor and or the Board of Review, they can file a further appeal either at the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or the Circuit Court but not both. Considering the importance of accurate assessments and fair taxation, I believe all of the current avenues for appeal should continue to be available to aggrieved property owners.

Should governmental units be given more time to argue that particularly large properties are under-assessed? Please explain.

The Board of Review allows governmental units to file under valuation appeals when they believe a property’s assessment is too low. Governmental units are well aware of that option and occasionally take advantage of it. I am unaware that any governmental units have expressed a need for more time to file their under-assessment appeals and therefore I would not favor granting more time, especially considering that granting more time might slow down the Board’s ability to finish each session in a timely manner.

Are staffers fairly distributed among the three Cook County Board of Review commissioners? Please explain.

Each commissioner is equally responsible for reviewing every appeal that is filed at the Board. In early 2019 there was a dispute between me and my two Democrat colleagues over distribution of resources at the Board. After many conversations between us, the dispute was settled and a letter sent by the three commissioners to the County Board pledging that we would work toward equity in future years. While we have not yet achieved that goal, I am hopeful that we will.

What should be the role of the Cook County Board of Review in providing technical help to school districts and other local taxing bodies when they challenge decisions by the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board to trim assessments? Please explain.

The Cook County Board of Review (BoR) is responsible for defending Cook County’s assessments at the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB). There is currently over half a billion dollars in potential liability to taxing districts throughout the county pending at the PTAB. The BoR actively encourages local governmental bodies to intervene at PTAB when they believe an appeal request is unreasonable. I have taken the lead in this area by meeting with school district superintendents, CFOs and attorneys as well as Village Presidents and managers and discussing with them their right to act as an intervenor in challenging a appellants appeal at PTAB. The BoR has analysts dedicated to our work at PTAB and all local governmental bodies who have an interest in intervening in an appeal at PTAB have the ability to contact those PTAB specialists at the BoR to discuss the cases in which they have an interest.

Should you have to be a lawyer to represent someone before the Board of Review? Why or why not?

Over the past ten years I have made approximately four-hundred Assessment Appeal Seminar presentations throughout my district to educate the public about the appeal process so they will be equipped to represent themselves at the Board of Review. Some of those presentations are currently available to be viewed on youtube. At each presentation, my staff hands out a booklet which reinforces the presentation explaining the appeal process. In addition, I have created a website, danpatlak.com which is a one-stop shop to answer homeowner questions about property taxes and how to file an appeal. In response to the current Covid lockdown, I have begun to conduct webinars which mirror the in-person seminars done in past years and which can be attended electronically regardless of the tax payers location.

Unlike the Assessor’s office, the Board of Review is a quasi-judicial office which acts a court. Therefore, any property that is incorporated is required by law to be represented by an attorney. Properties that are not incorporated (which include most residential properties) do not need to be represented by an attorney. However, if a residential property owner desires representation, by law she must be represented by an attorney. The same rule regarding legal representation is applied in all court rooms across the country.

Is it acceptable for a member of the Board of Review to work as a lobbyist at any level of government in Illinois? Please explain.

No. Lobbyists work for both private companies and governmental entities. They then solicit elected officials to vote for laws that would benefit their clients. That creates too many obligations for the lobbyist to do the job of objectively overseeing property assessment appeals.

What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.

I admire former State Senator Steve Rauschenberger. He was an accountant and small business owner who ran for public office believing he could help make a change for the better. Upon election, he immersed himself in budget issues and was quickly recognized by his colleagues as a budget expert and was appointed as chair and or minority spokesperson on the Appropriations Committee where he served with distinction for many years. While he often had policy disagreements with his Democrat colleagues, he earned their respect for his expert knowledge on budget issues and his ability negotiate difficult issues while remaining respectful to all involved. If he had been elected governor in 2006, I believe the financial trajectory of Illinois would be significantly better.

What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?

Seinfeld because they took a show about nothing and made it iconic. Though the show has been off the air for many years, I can still mention certain episodes to friends such as “I’ve got hand”, “the Soup Nazi” and “Doing the Opposite” and we can’t stop ourselves from laughing out loud.