Humboldt Park Resident in Shock After Property Tax Bill Doubles

The property owner said her installment bill was more than $6,000

A Chicago homeowner is reeling after receiving a massive property tax bill in the mail, and a similar shock could be in store for some other residents.

“To me, this is catastrophic,” property owner Ernestine Giesecke said.

When Giesecke opened the second installment of her Cook County property tax bill recently, she saw a number that nearly brought her to tears.

The bill was for just over $6,000, more than double what she had paid for her first installment in 2018. In total, Giesecke is now facing a property tax bill that is nearly $4,000 more than what she paid just two years ago.

“By the time you put the two of them together, that is 87 percent of my Social Security checks,” she said. “I can’t live on 13 percent of my annual income.”

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The shocking bill comes a month after Cook County officials warned homeowners that property taxes could be going up in certain areas, and that seems to include Giesecke’s property in the West Town and Humboldt Park area.

“I can’t be the only person (this happened to),” she said. “There are several older adults somewhere around here.”

The Cook County Assessors Office has made several recommendations for residents facing elevated tax bills, including contacting the office to make sure that homeowners are receiving exemptions that could help to reduce their bill.

“A few exemptions we offer include the homeowner’s exemption, which is available to people who are the primary residents,” Scott Smith, Chief Communications Officer for the Assessor’s Office, said. “You can also get the senior citizen exemption, which is available to residents 65 years or older.”

Giesecke is prepared to fight to lower her bill, but she wishes it hadn’t come to a confrontation over the elevated cost.

“I am not much for sharing financial information, but I am going to have to explain the problem,” she said.

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