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Do assessor candidates have each other's numbers?

Sometimes, public debate does focus on issues that can be reduced to a number.

All these years later, for example, people still remember: “54.40 or fight.”

But “10/25 or fight”? So far, it hasn’t caught the public’s attention.

“10/25” refers to a revised way of calculating the relationship between home market values in Cook County and the assessed values that are used for tax purposes.

Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan, who is not running for re-election, pushed for the new “10/25” system, which means that the assessed value of houses would be considered 10 percent of market value and commercial valuations would be 25 percent. Previously, the assessed valuation was supposed to represent 16 percent of a home’s value or 38 percent of a commercial property.

The underlying assessed valuations, which are all that count in calculating taxes, didn’t change because of 10/25..

Houlihan argued that the new system only formalized what assessors had been doing anyway for years.

Meanwhile, Cook County Democratic Chairman Joseph Berrios, who is the Democratic nominee to replace Houlihan, sits on the county’s Board of Review. A Board of Review staff member linked “10/25” to a “historic increase in home market values.”

A Houlihan spokesman retorted: “The Board of Review is engaged in a cynical effort to distract homeowners from the massive assessment reductions they are giving to commercial property.”

What might make “10/25” an issue is if retiring Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool gathers enough signatures to run as an independent against Berrios, who otherwise doesn’t appear to face significant opposition. Claypool needs 25,000 signatures, and likely will face challenges to his petitions.

But even if he gets on the ballot, Claypool said Monday he doesn’t intend to make “10/25” his rallying cry.

Instead, he said, he’ll talk about Berrios’ record of taking campaign contributions from commercial property owners (or their representatives) who get big tax reductions from Berrios’ Board of Review.

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