Check out the video with Robert Porter, a former township supervisor who serves as a representative for the township assessors. He attends the CCTAA meetings and provides updates on the property tax system as a whole.
For $300 a year, township assessors in Cook County share lunch nine times a year with their township counterparts as part of the Cook County Township Assessors' Association (CCTAA).
With 30 townships in the county, the CCTAA offers a meeting place for the people’s advocates to debate, learn and teach propertytax information, as a branch of the umbrella organization Township Officials of Cook County.
“Since the 1960s, assessors have been meeting about nine times a year for training,” said CCTAA President Ali ElSaffar, who is also the township assessor for Oak Park. “When you get into the nuts, bolts and weeds of this stuff, we can compare notes and make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Most meetings happen at The Flame, a steakhouse in Countryside that boasts its steak joint. Over lunch, there’s usually a speaker and presentation, as well as time for questions and answers. The topic in February was on the income-based “senior freeze” exemption, which requires taxpayers to make $55,000 or less in annual salary. The township assessors debated the various ways to arrive at such a number.
“One of the things we have,” said ElSaffar,” is a pretty complicated system. The way we’ve organized things with township government is that we’ve diffused power, and so power is not concentrated in one person.”
While ElSaffar acknowledged that the system requires more time with more people, he said, “In a lot of ways, that’s what democracy is all about, just a little more unwieldy."