Andrea R. Raila
Democratic candidate for Assessor
Responses to our questions
Compare and contrast: Why should voters elect you and not your opponent? Your campaign materials explain your general qualifications for office, so you needn't repeat that information. We're instead asking you to help us do what voters must do - choose one candidate over the other.
Voters in Cook County should vote for Andrea Raila, candidate for Cook County Assessor because: I'm a 35-year professional tax assessment educator and taxpayer advocate, personally presenting hundreds of free self-help property education workshops to landlords and homeowners, often in under resourced or minority neighborhoods, many sponsored by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank's Money Smart Week and the Community Investment Corporation.
Unlike Berrios and Kaegi Former civil servant decision maker with the Cook County Board of (Tax Appeals) Review, personally responsible for analyzing real estate tax data to determine tax appeal outcomes, research and established neighborhood vacancy rates, operating expenses and capitalization rates for better multi-family and commercial valuation standards. Unlike Berrios and Kaegi Longtime member of Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Tax Policy Committee, member Illinois Women's Property Tax Association, Institute for Professionals in Taxation and former appointee to the Washington Administration's first Taxpayer Advocate Office.
Unlike Berrios and Kaegi 25+ year active member of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) contributor to their Fair & Equitable Assessment Magazine, published tax assessment articles, editorial opinions in professional magazines such as the Chicago Lawyers Magazine, newspapers and industry journals. Unlike Berrios and Kaegi Lead organizer for the first successful repeal of a Special Service District (SSA 46) tax that had been erroneously calculated and collected. Unlike Berrios and Kaegi Leader in Vote Yes for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con in 1988 & 2008), circulated hundreds of petitions and collected thousands of signatures for candidates and advisory and binding referendums, such as the Citizens Utility Board, taxpayer and consumer issues, term limitations, ballot access issues see People vs. DiGuida supported by the Chicago Tribune.
Unlike Berrios and Kaegi Commissioned by the Illinois Taxpayers Federation to co-write the study, The Illinois Property Tax System: Taxation without Representation, a 1994 in-depth property tax expose with clarion calls for reforms statewide and concentrating on Cook County. Unlike Berrios and Kaegi As a 25-year business owner of a property tax public policy and tax reduction firm I initiated numerous property tax reform laws that the past 3 county assessors actively or passively fought against.
These laws advance businesses and homeowners property tax fairness and became law because I worked effectively with legislators:
- Requires Assessor to cancel homestead exemptions following a sale of the home so taxpayers will not get an erroneous exemption penalty through no fault of their own.
- Allows homeowners to notify the Assessor that they no longer occupy their unsold home so that they avoid getting an automatic unqualified exemption(s) and risk erroneous exemption back tax bill(s).
- Allows taxpayers who receive omitted back tax bills the right to have 5 months to pay instead of 30 days.
- Strengthens taxpayers' rights in back taxation bills requires timely notice by Assessor; reduced the number of back tax years for payment from 10 years to 3-4 years; and grants right to tax appeals for back taxes the homeowner or business owner believe are too excessive based on over valuation.
- Requires taxing agents of Special Service Districts (SSA) to give businesses proper notice and better hearing rights to oppose tax levy increases.
Unlike Berrios and Kaegi I keep a 1991 Eric Zorn Cook County Assessor column entitled "Fast Assessment: It Doesn't Add Up," circulating it to associates, academics, candidates and elected officials for the past 26 years because it was as relevant each and every tax assessment year for every single taxpayer in all parts of Cook County.
Unlike Berrios and Kaegi I propose a realistic vision for the rehabilitation of the Cook County property tax system that Kaegi and Berrios do not have: Taxpayers' confidence in tax assessment fairness is best achieved through open non-politically sponsored tax information sessions and online systems that disclose the data and methodology used to create market values.
Our volume of tax appeals is excessive because tax assessments are poorly understood, are unfair, and practitioners before the assessor are allowed limitless contributions. The increased volume of tax appeals takes a heavy toll on the public administration of a fair tax appeal system. The internal outdated assessment systems and political environment hinder just and fair property tax decisions for many.
County assessors and tax appeal boards face fewer resources and struggle with faster deadlines. Appeal boards are overwhelmed with weak or frivolous appeals. Full disclosure of internal Assessor audits, answering all public freedom of information requests, especially assessor field inspector reports, providing online property record cards and detailed assessment data and removing the requirement for tax practitioners to pay $5,000 every year to obtain public information are needed. Homeowners should be able to go online to see the property records card, and sales data used to create their own market values.
The most innovative projects crucial to advancing the Assessor's Office into the 21st century are the implementation of the more accurate MacArthur assessment formula, empowering our 38 township assessors and the Board of Review with valuation and equalization authority and the implementation of a Digital Appeals Processing System (DAPS). A DAPS system was implemented by the Cook County Board of Review in 2015. After three years the DAPS system streamlined the tax appeal process, demonstrating its value and efficiency while curbing favoritism and errors.
The Assessor's office should be a platform to advocate for significant Illinois property tax changes for such a regressive tax on which we are far too over reliant. As a former Cook County and city of Chicago employee I saw first-hand how government can work for the better but only if there is transparency, accountability, and best business practices at play - instead of the pay-to-play arena that too many elected officials and public policy makers have ignored. I promise to place limits on our triennial reassessment increases. And while at it, perhaps we should be considering an appointed Cook County Assessor in the future.