We had good reason to consider delaying property tax bills: County Clerk Yarbrough

To move forward with the calculation of tax rates, as the Sun-Times suggested, would be to do so knowing that we would be relying on numbers that could be inaccurate.

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Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough.

Ashley Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Move along, nothing to see here!

That seemed to be the implication of the Sun-Times July 13 editorial which suggested that the Cook County Clerk and Treasurer should move ahead with the calculation of tax rates and the distribution of tax bills even though we knew we could be relying on flawed data if we were to do so.

Never mind the insulting racial slur used in the piece, which stated that I, as the county’s first African American clerk, was trying to throw a “monkey wrench” into the tax process.Can this really be what we expect of journalism in 2021?

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Let’s review the facts:We knew about the problems with the Cook County assessor’s taxing process because the Sun-Times told us so in its glaring expose published earlier this month on the assessor’s Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption program.The investigative story revealed that the program was “riddled with errors” and identified numerous flaws in the assessor’s calculation of senior freeze exemptions.

Among the errors reported, senior freezes had been granted in some cases to ineligible businesses, and property assessments had been frozen based on the value of buildings that had been torn down years before.

It is this data provided by the assessor that my office relies upon to fulfill our role in the county’s taxing process, which is to calculate tax rates based on levies from taxing districts.

To move forward with the calculation of tax rates, as the Sun-Times suggested, would be to do so knowing that we would be relying on numbers that could be inaccurate.When a taxpayer receives an excessive break in their taxes, we are all forced to make up the difference.And in our view that is not a fair process, particularly for seniors living on fixed incomes.

The assessor has made assurances that the data is now accurate, and the Cook County state’s attorney has weighed in as well and we are now moving forward with the taxing calculations.

To be clear, this was not a “pointless” attempt to tie up the taxing process, but rather a responsible and necessary response to protect our seniors and meet our fiduciary duties to the taxpayers of Cook County.

Karen A. Yarbrough, Cook County Clerk

Kudos to Kadner

Just a note to say how admirably Phil Kadner handled his experience with Alice at the Art Institute, and then some, in his column “Alice and three billionaires have a very different view of space.”

I love that he shared this because it encourages people to go ahead, take that extra step and “connect” with another human who might be in need. These seemingly small bits of interaction are crucial and extremely vital with such little effort on our part.

Makes you want to shout “C’mon people, give a little!”Thanks to Phil, for another great column.

Rosemarie Sulek, Wildwood

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