School Revenue Issues
The property tax is by far the largest source of funding for school districts. For commercial and industrial property owners, the property tax is generally the second or third largest expense item, after debt service. Property owners have a keen interest in reducing their assessments and paying less in property taxes. Franczek attorneys protect school district interests and defend against property tax refunds that can wreak havoc on school budgets and plans. When a school district is facing significant refund exposure there is a need for skilled and experienced counsel.
Budget, Levies, State Aid Reimbursement & PTELL
On the levy and budget side, Franczek attorneys successfully defend the legality of our client’s property tax rates against claims brought in circuit court as tax rate objections. Moreover, we provide school districts with unsurpassed counsel on State Aid reimbursement claims, having collected an excess of $100 million for eligible school districts. Finally, you cannot ignore the impact of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law or “Tax Cap” on school district finances. Franczek has been involved in some of the most unique challenges raised by the Tax Cap. We have guided school districts through the myriad budgeting, tax extension, and levy issues raised by this legislation.
Franczek attorneys are also skilled in handling property tax exemption matters. Whether you are seeking an exemption for the district’s own property, or challenging a questionable exemption sought by another, we provide guidance, advice, and representation.
Property Tax Appeals
Franczek has been on the prevailing side in most of the leading property tax litigation over the past decade:
- Robert Bosch Corporation – First District Appellate Court rejects the Property Tax Appeal Board’s (PTAB) application of the median level of assessment for commercial and industrial appeals;
- The Lurie Company – First District Appellate Court overturns the PTAB’s reliance on the so-called “2 ½:1” constitutional level of assessment;
- Elmhurst Chicago Stone – Second District Appellate Court reverses Circuit Court decision allowing open space roll-back funds to be distributed wholly to municipality;
- Commonwealth Edison Company Right-of-Way Appeals – Second District Appellate Court upholds PTAB decision rejecting argument that corridor parcels can only be valued based upon their historic cost when acquired rather than at fair cash value; and
- Madison Two Associates – Illinois Supreme Courts affirms right of taxing bodies to petition the circuit courts to intervene in tax objection complaints.
In each of these cases, we vigorously represented the school districts’ interests and protected them from significant refund exposure or an adverse development in the law.
Franczek represents school districts in assessment appeals before the PTAB – promoting the withdrawal of groundless appeals, settling appeals at a fraction of the requested refund amount when warranted, and defending assessments in administrative hearings. In fact, we have been successful in having numerous assessments increased and collecting additional property tax revenue for our clients from these under-valued properties. We have also been at the forefront of developing long-term, multi-year solutions for property assessments that avoid years of protracted litigation while providing assessment certainty for both school districts and property owners.
Franczek monitors assessment appeals filed at local boards of review and provides a defense when warranted in these pre-tax extension matters. Additionally, following the favorable Supreme Court ruling in Madison Two Associates, we have begun to identify the most significant tax objection complaints filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, and working cooperatively with the State’s Attorney’s Office, we are filing petitions to intervene consistent with the Court’s ruling. At the forefront of the law, we developed our tax objection complaint (TOC) database as a valuable resource for our clients in identifying tax objection complaints.
TIF, Impact Fees & Development Incentives
Over the last few years, there has been an explosion in the growth of development incentives offered by county assessment officials and municipalities. We have assisted school districts in dealing with this new assessment incentive landscape. Franczek has been a pioneer in advising school districts where a local municipality is seeking to create a tax increment financing (TIF) district. We have assisted districts in opposing TIF districts, challenging eligibility criteria, limiting geographic scope and term, and in negotiating intergovernmental agreements for the mutual benefit of all parties. In doing so, we always remain cognizant of the working relationship among local taxing districts while striving to meet our client’s strategic objectives.
In addition, our attorneys are well-versed in municipal ordinances pertaining to development impact fee incentive ordinances. New residential developments continue to be built throughout Illinois, and school districts are required to serve those new student populations. We have assisted school districts in navigating existing ordinances and have negotiated with municipalities on changes in ordinances to ensure that school districts receive the maximum impact fees to compensate them for increasing student populations due to new residential developments.