Wednesday, November 30, 2016

For Some, Property Assessment Reductions Do Little To Ease Tax Concerns: Des Plaines Alderman Wants More Information On Chicago O'Hare International Airport Noise Study

Even with an Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) reduction from Cook County, most Des Plaines residents plagued with loud overnight airport noise saw an increase in their overall property taxes this year.

According to Ald. Malcolm Chester (6th), the Cook County Assessor’s Office has been conducting a study for two years to lower the EAV of homes in portions of the county that experience heavy air traffic. EAV is a value placed on property for tax purposes, determined by an equalization factor that allows all properties in the region to be uniformly assessed, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

This year, Chester’s home in the city’s south side 6th ward received a 7% decrease in EAV as a result of its location under an O’Hare Airport noise path. However, this decrease was surpassed by the overall 9% increase in EAV for the property since its last assessment, so Chester actually saw his EAV rise approximately 2%.

“This is Cook County’s version of tax relief,” said Chester in a newsletter to his constituents.

“Market values went down with the recession,” he said of the EAV increase on Wednesday, Nov. 16, “and of course, now they are going back up.”

Others in the ward have come to Chester with similar complaints of rising EAV, despite the decrease for noise from Cook County. Additionally, the rate of decrease for airplane noise was not consistent in the area. While Chester received a 7% decrease, some of his neighbors received 4% and others received none.

“We’ve asked to see the study and asked to have it explained to us,” Chester said. He added that O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) Chair and Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek has requested details of the study from Cook County.

“The assessor has not yet told any of us on the commission what the criteria are for granting this reduction in assessed value,” said Chester in his newsletter.

Another issue for Des Plaines residents who live under the hull of O’Hare flights is the proposed “Fly Quiet Rotation,” which is currently being tested. The final round of the six-month testing cycle is scheduled to end on Christmas. During this 12-week cycle, jets will fly over Des Plaines’ 6th, 2nd and 1st ward homes at night to land at Runway 22-R for three weeks.

Although Des Plaines residents have adapted to flights landing and taking off from Runway 22-R for years, Chester said that night noise is “a whole different ball game.”

After data from the rotation test has been collected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a decision will be made, most likely by the end of the year, on making the Fly Quiet rotation permanent. Although Chester intends to fight for a return to the old flight schedule, he admits that there are a variety of factors working against Des Plaines.

“We don’t really have a lot of allies,” he said. According to Chester, other areas affected by the Fly Quiet Rotation, such as Park Ridge and Glenview, will most likely benefit from the change. “It’s an isolating position to be in.”

At this point, one of the only things that could protect the former rotation schedule would be safety issues regarding Runway 22-R. As one of the airport’s oldest runways, 22-R is relatively short at 7,500 ft., which makes landing planes on the strip at night, or during winter weather conditions, a dangerous prospect. Chester noted that the recent incident where an American Airlines flight caught fire may have faced dire consequences on a short runway.

If the Fly Quiet Rotation is eventually approved by the FAA, Chester hopes that residents will have access to federal funding for noise insulation measures.

“We’ll have to wait it out and watch it carefully,” Chester said.


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