Although the assessor’s office presents itself like it’s some kind of secret society, in reality its function is quite simple. The office is responsible for putting a value on property and the skill sets required to be an assessor is on par with a real estate appraiser. In Will County, the township assessor is responsible for appraising all of the property in its jurisdiction once every 3 years along with managing individual tax appeals. The office is autonomous and any pressure from other politicians in Will County or the State of IL to influence property values must be ignored.
I am going to make the assumption that Assessor Szynkowski’s silence to our inquiry about her department’s spending is her way of telling me to go away, so I decided to compare Homer Township to 5 other townships in Will County. I have attached a spread sheet that gives us a snapshot of the financial performance each assessor office. I used the audited financials of New Lenox, Wheatland, Plainfield, Joliet and Lockport Townships from the FY 2014-2015 along with the 2010 census report for the population numbers and housing units in each township.
I wish I could tell you that Homer Township is a lean, mean productive machine that is serving the public at the highest levels, but the numbers say otherwise. Homer has the smallest population and number of housing units, yet our assessor office pays the highest salaries. Many of the townships in Will County have almost twice the number of housing units and their office is able to deliver services at lower salaries than Homer. Once you add in the operating costs of the department, Homer ranks third in total spending behind Joliet and Wheatland Townships. Both of those townships have twice the population and housing units.
In order to really understand how much of a premium we pay for the assessor’s office, I broke down the data by cost per housing unit, resident and assessment.
As you can see, Homer is substantially higher across the board. The most disturbing number to me is the cost per assessment. The assessments per year number is generated by taking one third of the total housing units in each township. The number does not include any of the appeals. If you consider we have the smallest number of housing units (which means fewer appeals) and we do not have a large number of commercial properties to assess (which are more complex and time consuming) the assessor’s office performance is totally unacceptable. What is so special about Homer Township that we pay over $30 per assessment more than other townships?
As a citizen and taxpayer of Homer Township, it really is depressing to see how our trusted politicians misspend our money and mismanage our township. Homer Township’s cost structure should be about the same as New Lenox Township. Assessor Szynkowski has been in the assessor’s office since 1990. She has been the township assessor since 2001. She is the President of the Will County Assessor’s Association. It’s not like she is incompetent. She knows exactly what she is doing.
Where are our trustees? Why aren’t they asking questions? Where is Supervisor Meyers? Is she too busy trying to build the perfect dog park to look into a patronage racket running right under her nose? The town board has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, yet they approve the Assessor’s budget every year. Do the math. All of the assessor’s office revenue is property tax generated. In this one fiscal year, Homer’s cost is $137,000 more than New Lenox. This is happening every year. What is the total cost to the taxpayer over the last 15 years? One million dollars? Maybe more?
This has to stop. Elections are coming up. Last election, Assessor Szynkowski ran unopposed. Supervisor Meyers ran unopposed. 5 citizens stepped up to run for 4 trustee seats in the Republican primary. No Democrats bothered to run in the general election. We can’t have this. Anybody out there interested in community service? Assessor? Supervisor? Clerk? Trustee? Send me a PM.
Assessor Department Comparisons FY 2014 -2015 Township Population Salaries Total w/ Expenses Housing units
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