Berrios spokesman: 'The race is over, Mr. Kaegi'
Last week, Frederick “Fritz” Kaegi, who will almost certainly win the election for Cook County assessor in November, criticized outgoing Assessor Joe Berrios for not developing a residential assessment model fairer to lower-income homeowners.
But nearly a month before Kaegi’s comments at the Union League in downtown Chicago, Berrios’ office announced a new, more equitable residential assessment model in a press release posted on the Assessor’s website. Berrios spokesman Tom Shaer released a statement correcting Kaegi.
“Some statements are so blatantly wrong they need to be corrected,” Shaer told Chicago City Wire. “Someone needs to tell Mr. Kaegi the race is over. He can stop running now.”
The previous model, one the assessor’s office had been using for 40 years, led to regressivity – upscale homes being undervalued and homes of lower-income residents being overvalued. The shift in wealth amounted to $2.2 billion between 2011 and 2105, according to a study by University of Chicago Professor Christopher Berry, who skewered Berrios in a Tribune article published days before the March 20 primary. Kaegi defeated Berrios by 12 points in the primary; and as a Democrat, is a near lock in November.
Shaer said that the Assessor’s office agreed with the Tribune and Berry that regressivity beyond acceptable limits existed, but they disagreed on how to correct the inequity.
“They said our model wouldn’t work but we now have six of eight townships in Chicago finished (their every three-year assessment) and the International Association of Assessing Officers says that each one of the assessments is up to standards,” Shaer said.
Shaer added that the full assessment would be completed by October 5.
“That will mean in the eight years Joe Berrios has been in office we have never been late completing our assessments,” Shaer said. “If you’re late, it creates a domino effect. Revenue is late coming in and the county has to borrow money to pay bills.”
During his time in office, Berrios had been criticized for nepotism and taking political donations from tax attorneys that exceeded the allowable limits. His last day in office is December 3.