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Study: Tax Levies In Cook County Rose 48 Percent In 10 Years

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Property Taxes

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, Better Government Association President Andy Shaw and others talk about the county’s spiking property taxes. (Credit: Craig Dellimore/WBBM Newsradio/CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A new study shows how far and how fast taxes have been going up in various municipalities in Cook County.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the non-profit Heartland Institute analyzed data from the Cook County Treasurer’s office, which showed the combined property tax levies from the more than 550 taxing bodies in the county went up 48 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Heartland government relations director John Nothdurft said that’s more than twice the rate of inflation for the area for the same time period.

“The average property tax owner pays 48 percent more in property taxes today than they did a decade ago, with some homeowners seeing triple digit increases,” Nothdurft said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Better Government Association president Andy Shaw said the numbers allow voters to ask some tough questions of their elected officials in Cook County.

“Were these tax increases justified? Was the money spent fairly, transparently, efficiently, honestly, and accountably?” he said.

Many of the tax hikes were driven by pension and other personnel costs, but Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said part of the problem is having more than 550 different government bodies in Cook County with the power to levy property taxes.

“There are 29 fire districts, 122 municipalities, 49 libraries, and so on,” she said.

Shaw noted suburban governments raised property taxes by 75 percent.

“The media does a great job of keeping an eye on Chicago and Cook County and the state of Illinois, but the suburbs are basically operating under the radar screen,” Shaw said.

Pappas, the BGA and the Heartland Institute said taxpayers need to ask tough questions, such as whether all of those government bodies are necessary.

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