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Board of Review District 3, Democratic Primary

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Rogers
Rogers
Birthdate: 2/18/1968
Occupation: attorney/Power Rogers & Smith, P.C.
Marital status: married
Spouse: Ralonda

Education:

I obtained my Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree in Managerial Economics in 1990 from the University of California, Davis. I obtained my J.D. degree in law from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1993.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

UNICEF, Midwest Board of Directors
100 Club of Chicago, Board of Directors
American Association of Justice, member
National Bar Association, past section chairman
Illinois State Bar Association, member
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, member
Chicago Bar Association, member
Cook County Bar Association, past President
Lawyers Assistance Program, Board of Directors, member
Rainbow PUSH, member
Citizens Education Fund
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., member

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Larry R. Rogers, Jr. was first elected in 2004 as the 3rd District Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review and was re-elected to the same position in 2008. He has not been employed by any branch of government other than as an elected commissioner.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

No members of my immediate family or business partners have held jobs or had contracts with the government to the best of my knowledge.

Campaign information
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    Rogers
Rogers

Campaign headquarters: PO Box 67480, Chicago, IL 60664
Website: www.larryrogersjr.com
Campaign manager: Kitty Geary
Campaign budget: It is estimated that this campaign will cost between $250,000 and $500,000 based upon the size of the district and the physical size and number of voters within the district.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Larry R. Rogers, Jr. contributed $330,000.00
Larry R. Rogers, Sr. contributed $100,000.00
Jesse Jackson, Jr. for Congress contributed $50,000.00
Joseph A. Power contributed $25,000.00
Chicago Federation of Labor & IUC PAC contributed $9,200.00
AFSCME IL Council #31 contributed $5,000.00
Friends of Kwame Raoul contributed $5,000.00

Critics say that because Board of Review commissioners are elected and have to be re-elected, there's a tendency for them to grant tax relief to property owners who file. Do you see this as a problem, and if so, how do you plan to deal with it?
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    Rogers
Rogers

The fact that Cook County Board of Review Commissioners are elected and have to be re-elected does not cause them to grant tax relief to property owners who file appeals. The process of electing commissioners to this important agency is not a problem, but rather, presents a solution for taxpayers who feel their properties are being unfairly over assessed and over taxed. The election process is important to this and other governmental offices because it allows the citizens to elect candidates who they feel are familiar with the issues, and who will represent their communities in office. While some would suggest that citizens have a problem with any taxation of their properties, the more accurate description is that citizens have a problem with over taxation of their properties. Most citizens are willing to pay their fair share of property taxes if those taxes are based upon accurate market and assessed values. When the values assigned to their properties are clearly inconsistent with what they know their properties are worth in the market, citizens should and currently, do have a forum where those values can be challenged and decided based upon evidence of value.

The Board of Review has been criticized for giving larger amounts of relief to businesses than to homeowners. In the past, the difference has been estimated as $3 of relief for commercial property for every $1 for homeowners. Do you consider this a problem? If so, what would you do to rectify that?
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    Rogers
Rogers

The differences in property value adjustments made on business properties as compared to residential properties is multi-factoral. First, generally speaking, business properties tend to have more significant values initially assigned to them, therefore, even small percentage changes in value, can result in significant dollar value changes. In comparison, most homes are valued much less than many businesses, so the same, or even a larger percentage changes in value, often equates to much less of a monetary savings. Additionally, and arguably more importantly, homeowners, unlike business owners, have been largely unaware of the means through which they could challenge the assessed values assigned to their properties. As a result, fewer homeowners, proportionately, as compared to business owners file appeals at the Board of Review. Many businesses owners appeal their assessed values annually as a part of their good business practices aimed at reducing property tax expenses. In an attempt to address the homeowners lack of familiarity with the process, and increase access to the appeals process, we have conducted community outreach forums throughout Cook County where we educate taxpayers on the assessment and the appeal process. At these forums we allow property owners to file appeals right their at the forum, in their communities. These community outreach efforts have been held with churches, community organizations, and other elected officials in an effort to educate as many people as possible on how to challenge their assessments if they believe they are inaccurate. Additionally, on September 6, 2011, the Board of Review launched an on-line appeal process which allows taxpayers to file appeals from the comfort of their home, or office, or wherever they can obtain computer access. By familiarizing more citizens with the process and making the appeal process more accessible to property owners, commercial and residential property owners can ensure that they are paying no more than their fair share of property taxes based upon accurate values. Information on the assessment and taxation system is power. Therefore, increasing community awareness, understanding and access is something that has empowered homeowners over the last several years, and it is something we will work even harder on in the months and years to come.

The year, the Cook County Board gave extra money to the Board of Review to ensure that property tax bills will go out on time. What will you do to make sure that happens?
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    Rogers
Rogers

The Cook County Board of Review has seen exponential increases in the number of appeals filed in the last 10 years. Despite this increase, the agency has not similarly grown in size in terms of the number of employees or budget resources needed to run the agency. The increased workload has been addressed by inner-office efficiencies accomplished through a number of means, including: (1) employing more real estate professionals, including attorneys, appraisers, and persons with real estate experience, (2) implementing computer systems and programs to allow appeals analysts to handle more appeals faster; and (3) utilizing computer based property analysis systems to allow analysts to compare like properties more easily to increase their per appeal efficiency. This year, the Board of Review did not receive the funding requested to ensure that our work could be timely completed to get the property bills out and due by the statutory deadline. Despite not receiving the requested funds to ensure completion of our work timely to ensure that tax bills go out on time, the commissioners and staff at the Board of Review are working hard to complete their work faster and sooner than ever before, and we are committed to doing so.

What do you plan to do to improve transparency in how the board arrives at its decisions?
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    Rogers
Rogers

Open, honest and transparent government is important to maintaining the public's trust. The Board of Review has become a more transparent agency by providing online access to information regarding the number of appeals filed, the names of the appellants, the identities of their representatives, and the amounts of the reductions granted. We have, and will continue to document our analysis and decisions on property tax appeals, making that information available to anyone who wishes to review it. Information on Board of Review appeals has been provided by searchable database in a number of different formats in the past, and we will continue to make it available as we move forward. The Board of Review has fully participated with the current President's administration's Star Report program, and is currently working with other County elected officials agencies to provide a property tax portal where taxpayers can access information from a variety of governmental agencies from one web based location. At every turn, we have worked to dispel myths regarding the Board of Review, by providing information where it is requested and assisting with any effort to improve on the public understanding of what we do at the Board of Review. We will continue these efforts going forward. We are currently working with the Bureau of Technology to move our agency toward a completely paperless agency to not only improve the efficiency of the agency, but to make its inner-workings as transparent as possible for the public.

Will you accept campaign contributions from employees in your office?
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    Rogers
Rogers

I will not accept campaign contributions from employees in my office and have not done so over the last 7 years that I have been in office.

The candidates
Larry Rogers, Jr.
The office

The Board of Review oversees an property-tax appeal process for Cook County taxpayers. The three-member board has the power to set the final valuation of properties in Cook County.

The district
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