EDWARDSVILLE – Officials approved a plan earlier this week to make townships pay for services provided by the Madison County Chief Assessment Office.
The County Board passed a resolution Wednesday giving townships a choice to either pay for the full costs of tax assessments starting Feb. 1 or do the work themselves. During the past four years the county has billed more than $260,000 to townships for the work done by the Chief County Assessment Office.
“The amount the county collects during the next four years could double depending on what townships decided to do,” Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.
Prenzler said the plan allows townships an option, and for smaller townships it’s a cost benefit compared to having a staff do all the work.
Chief of County Assessments Joe Dauderman said the decision to change how the county charged townships came about after he received information about the possible dissolution of Alton and Godfrey townships.
“I wanted to make sure the (board members) knew the strain it would put on my office to take on the assessment work done by larger townships,” Dauderman said.
Dauderman said he brought up the issue during the December Real Estate Tax Cycle Committee. He informed the committee about the current method used to charge for assessment work.
In 2009, the county passed a resolution and began charging 50 percent of the rates for quadrennial services and 75 percent for non-quadrennial services.
“I put together a spread sheet showing the cost to the county for completing assessment work that is not being done by the townships,” he said. “It was my understanding the resolution was passed to encourage the township assessors to complete their own work. Years ago, the county was completing nearly all the quad work for the townships, including those that had full-time assessors with a full-time staff.”
The source for the fees the county charged came from a 2007 cost study performed by Maximus Services of Northbrook, Ill.
Dauderman said the strategy appeared to have worked as the majority of the townships now complete their own work as required by state statute.
The new resolution makes it clear that the county will be charging the actual amount that was determined in the 2007 cost study and that if a township is dissolved the cost will be taken over by the coterminous municipality.
There are 24 townships and 16 of those elect their tax assessor and are responsible for their assessments. The remaining eight townships — Alhambra, Hamel, Ompghent, Pin Oak, New Douglas, Leef, Moro and Foster — choose to pay the county to do their assessments.
The county billed 18 townships for work done on 37,881 parcels.
Alton Township is the only township not on the same system as the county. Dauderman said that if Alton Township is eliminated then the assessment function could cost the county approximately $500,000 as the county would be required to bring its assessment system on board with the county’s system.
County Board member Phil Chapman, of Highland, and chair of the Tax Cycle Committee said this was a fair and equitable process for all.
“We closed a loophole and are still happy to assist townships with assessments and will be charging the full cost for the work,” he said.