Monday, October 30, 2017 || By Amy Luke || OPINION || @maywoodnews
I want to thank the Chicago Tribune for its recent articles documenting the dramatic inequity in water rates across Chicagoland. I live and work in Maywood and have been mortified by the ever-increasing water bills my neighbors and I are faced with.
The fact that so many water shut-off notices have been issued in our community was one I was not aware of; unfortunately, however, it doesn’t surprise me.
Our problems in Maywood don’t stop at high water rates. We also must deal with high property taxes and an arbitrary method of assessing real estate values.
The assessed value of our home in Maywood increased by $50,000 with this recent assessment. That means our taxes, on a home newly assessed at $211,000, will be $11,573 — an effective tax rate of 5.4 percent.
That, of course, is assuming I could sell my home at the assessed value, which is extremely far from assured. So, the effective tax rate is likely even higher.
After the county denied our appeal on the assessment of our home, I reread the series of Chicago Tribune articles detailing how the system that the county uses to assess real estate values for tax purposes favors wealthy communities over poorer ones.
The whole process, from assessment to appeals, seems very arbitrary. For instance, while we were denied, most of my neighbors received nominal reductions in their assessments. I have filed for a re-review, but this in itself is wrong and does not address the root problems.
From a social justice perspective, we should be alarmed that the 15 communities with the highest tax rates are all predominantly African American and low-income.
When you combine these taxes with the lack of services, the lack of viable business districts, and failing schools, our poor communities have no way up. Homeowners are paying exorbitantly for the poorest community attributes possible.
This is clearly a public health issue and it is discriminatory. In addition to outlining this reality, we need to take action. What can we do to solve this? And why isn’t there more outrage about these injustices? VFP
Amy Luke is a Maywood resident and a board member for Maywood Fine Arts.
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