Fritz Kaegi’s promises to fix a broken property tax system and end political patronage hiring led to his surprising win last year over Joe Berrios, the county’s longtime assessor and former Democratic Party chairman.
But a court-appointed monitor recently reported that the assessor’s office is not yet fully complying with a series of federal court orders known collectively as the Shakman decrees, which mandate federal oversight of hiring in Cook County government jobs (the decrees were the result of a lawsuit filed by Michael Shakman in 1969, which argued patronage problems were rampant in Cook County government).
“The Inspector General specifically noted our office has not taken politics into account in our hiring practices,” Kaegi told WTTW News via email Tuesday. “And our Shakman Compliance Officer said he’s ‘confident that substantial compliance is on the horizon, not beyond it’. We will have the employment plan implemented by the end of the year. We just beefed up our HR department, rolled out a new employee handbook and trained our staff on it which are key components toward Shakman compliance.”
In the email, Kaegi also outlined his priorities for the rest of 2019 and 2020. Those items are below in an unedited format.
• Implementing new changes on the automatic renewal of the senior exemption
• Release of an annual report on the work of our office
• Implementing new call center technology which will improve experience of people calling our office
• Relaunching our website
• Make changes to how our office handles vacancy, which will invigorate economic development in neighborhoods
• Redesigning the assessment notices and exemption forms to make them easier to use
• Making it possible for people to apply online for exemptions and appeals
• Expanding the use of real estate data sources and technological tools to improve quality of our assessments and cut down on costly, time consuming appeals
Note: This story has been updated to clarify that Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office is not yet fully in compliance with the Shakman decrees.