Tax bills are heading out to residents’ mailboxes in all counties in Southern Illinois, which means a function of the county government will be in full swing starting soon.
The Board of Review is the function of the county government that residents of respective counties can see if they feel there is a problem with the assessment of their property.
Williamson County Board of Commissioner Chairman Jim Marlo said the supervisor of assessments sets the value of the property. The Board of Review only deals with assessments -- not the tax bill.
“The Board of Review is designed to give people an option -- if they feel they are being over assessed -- an opportunity to come and contact the county and give us the opportunity compare to what they think it is,” he said.
He said there is a form residents can fill out stating what they think the value of their property should be and why. He said it is recommended that an appraisal be done.
In Williamson County, the Board of Review is made up of the same elected officials who serve as the county commissioners -- Marlo, Brent Gentry and Ron Ellis.
In a commission form of government, the county commissioners are typically the Board of Review members, but those elected officials have the ability to appoint somebody else.
Union County is also a commission form of government and the elected officials have opted to appoint other individuals to do the job. According to Union County Chief Information Officer Rollie Hawk, there are three individuals on the review board -- Jim Haney, Jeff Robinson, and Andy Clarke. Each appointed members receive $300 per meeting, and in 2015, they met four times.
Williamson County Commissioners are paid their normal base salary of $61,441 as part of their work on the Board of Review.
In township forms of government, the Board of Review is hired out and paid an annual salary. In Jackson there are three individuals on the board – Jessica Doerr-Berger, Allan Karnes, and Wenona Whitfield. They each make a base salary of $16,349.
Another example of a township government hiring out the Board of Review is Franklin County, also with three members – Charles Daniels, JoAnn Slack, and Burton Willis – each making $4,430 annually for their time.
Marlo said a common misconception for taxpayers when they request a hearing with the Board of Review is that the board can lower their tax bill. He said the board can’t anything about the overall tax bill because there are several different taxing entities contributing to the bill depending on where a person lives within a county.
He said the Board of Review is there to protect taxpayers from individuals who try to cheat the system.
“There are people who know how to work the system and know all the little angles to try and get a lower assessed value,” Marlo said.
When that happens, then that means everybody else in the county has to pick up the slack because somebody else took a shortcut, he said. The review is there to make sure that doesn’t happen and it is their role to make sure each assessment is correct, Marlo said.
“I view it as part of my job,” Marlo said when asked why Williamson County does hire out members for the board of review. “It is my duty to the taxpayers of Williamson County. Sure we could hire it out, but it would cost more.”