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Overcharged taxpayers speak out at Bartlett meeting            
By Katlyn Smith
Posted September 11, 2014


Property taxpayers in northwest DuPage County who have been overcharged aired their frustration Wednesday night before state and local officials in Bartlett.

Organizers moved the town hall meeting to Eastview Middle School from a smaller venue to accommodate a crowd that often grew heated.

"The issue remains troublesome for everyone in this room," Bartlett Mayor Kevin Wallace said.

Bills payable in 2015 will reflect DuPage County taxpayers who paid too much and Kane County taxpayers who paid too little. State law requires the adjustments to be made the following tax cycle, DuPage County Chief Deputy Clerk Paul Hinds said.

That quashed residents' hopes that taxing bodies could rebate taxpayers in the short term.

"That just really doesn't seem fair to me," said Paul Bertolini, who lives in Bartlett. " … I don't trust government to give me what I'm due."

Wallace said the village tried to find a more immediate remedy for residents.

"We hit brick wall after brick wall," Wallace said. "We were told that it was technically impossible because of the irreducibly complex nature of our taxing system."

Officials have traced the billing blunder to a software glitch in the Kane County clerk's office for the last two years. As a result, the clerk's office underreported the total assessed values in the county's portion of Elgin Area School District U-46 and Elgin Community College District 509, according to Wayne Township Assessor Michael Musson.

The clerk's office sent the incorrect figures to the Illinois Department of Revenue. When taxing districts extend into multiple counties, the agency divvies up the property tax burden.

Based on those numbers, the state shifted the tax burden too heavily onto DuPage property owners in the two school districts, officials say. Kane County property owners, by contrast, were undercharged.

The state uncovered the error in May. That allowed the Cook County clerk's office to send out bills that credited taxpayers who also were overcharged as a result of Kane's billing mistake.

In this year alone, the total property tax bill for the owner of a $300,000 Bartlett home jumped 10.9 percent to $10,341, Musson has said. Without the error, the bill would have climbed 6 percent to 7 percent, he estimated.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton on Wednesday pledged to search for a legislative measure that prevents a similar gaffe.

"We've got to do something to make sure this doesn't happen again," the Villa Park Democrat said.

Hinds also said his office would mail letters to 14,000 households explaining the discrepancies and adjustments on the 2014 bills, due in 2015.

A representative of the Kane County clerk's office did not immediately return a request for comment.



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