Champaign County to take away property tax search by title sought by privacy-seeking officers, however resolution confuses different assessors

Champaign County eradicated the flexibility to look property tax data by an proprietor’s first and final title within the new 2018 tax system, regardless of practically each different county in Illinois nonetheless permitting it and bettering the standard of service consequently. .

For a short while, title searches had been potential beneath the brand new system, however in 2019, CU-CitizenAccess was knowledgeable in an e-mail from Andy Rhodes, an data expertise worker in Champaign County, that “the treasurer and assessor requested that the flexibility Search by title ought to be eliminated.”

Champaign County’s property tax data search system, DEVNET, doesn’t permit searches by proprietor title.

The then treasurer, Laurel Prusing, didn’t return a number of requests for a remark. Nevertheless, in response to the article, Prusing mentioned he “by no means advocated such a measure.” However Cassandra Johnson, the present Champagne County treasurer, responded final month.

She mentioned that, “In keeping with my colleague who has all the time been right here, this was finished as a safety measure and from the authorized aspect of issues, however that is previous data, so I am unable to say for certain. Was it actually the explanation or the one motive.”

However in a cellphone interview with Champagne County assessor Paula Bates final month, she mentioned, “I imagine it is all the time been an elected official’s prerogative that since now we have so many judges, police and senior residents, they do not needed them to be focused or really feel insecure.”

Nevertheless, property data, together with names, could be obtained by means of the Freedom of Info Act and put right into a searchable database. CU-CitizenAccess efficiently accessed the complete database for a number of tax years. In different phrases, not permitting somebody to look by title within the software program makes it tougher to seek out the property proprietor’s title moderately than stopping it altogether.

In 2015, CU-CitizenAccess used the database for a venture on how landlords within the county obtain 150 property tax exemptions for rental properties beneath the overall homestead exemption. That exemption, sometimes $6,000, is just thought of for the house by which a property proprietor resides, however the county appraiser on the time allowed for a number of exemptions, costing taxpayers thousands and thousands of {dollars}. .

As well as, in accordance with net pages saved by the Web Archive, the title search characteristic was eliminated within the earlier AS400 property lookup software round April 2008, merely citing “privateness points”. At present, property tax data don’t embrace private data aside from the proprietor’s title, deal with and postal deal with.

The county presently makes use of the DEVNET tax software program, which is used with title search by greater than half of the counties in Illinois.

When requested concerning the safety points attributable to the shortcoming to look by title, Bates defined, “That is proper, it was additionally resulting from some safety points, however I have been right here for 5 years, and it is all the time been like that.” Is.”

Opposite to Bates’ assertion, the change to the present tax system’s search characteristic really occurred three years in the past, and Bates was reportedly one of many individuals who particularly requested the change.

Moreover, the contract with DEVNET got here into impact lower than 5 years in the past in December 2018. The five-year contract represents a value of $100,325 in 4 funds from late 2018 to mid-2019. It has an annual value of $81,680 over the next 4 years by means of 2023, for the contract totaling a complete value of $427,045 in taxpayer {dollars}.

Not like Champaign County’s option to remove the search by title characteristic, different county assessors commented on their constructive experiences with permitting the usage of the software program characteristic.

For instance, Douglas County Assessor Cynthia Baer mentioned in a cellphone interview that, “To my data, there are not any safety points or different points with the software program in Douglas. I am going to add that it appears pretty normal to look by title.” As a result of simply yesterday I used to be on a web site for Palm Seashore County in Florida, and I used to be in a position to search by title.

Douglas County makes use of DEVNET for property tax data and permits looking out by proprietor title.

Bayer mentioned, “It makes it simpler and in addition prevents the general public from requesting data from the workplace, which is comprehensible as a result of if that they had come to request the identical data, we would not be denying it anyway.” Can.”

Bayer’s assertion was corroborated by Champagne County Treasurer Johnson, as she additionally famous that, “There are definitely some problems to with the ability to search by deal with or parcel quantity solely as a result of the data is a lot extra advanced. “

Bayer was unable to think about different the reason why Champagne County doesn’t permit one to look by title, besides that Douglas is a really small county.

McLean County assessor Robert Kahneman mentioned transparency improved the standard of its service in a cellphone interview final month.

“After I first got here right here twenty years in the past, it was a large number and there have been an enormous variety of complaints,” he mentioned. “As I elevated the quantity of transparency in our workplace, together with entry to property data by title, complaints decreased.”

McLean County makes use of DEVNET for property tax data and permits looking out by proprietor title.

Kahman mentioned the way to search by parcel quantity, for instance, is “archaic” and “no person is aware of their quantity these days, so I do not perceive why looking out by title just isn’t allowed.”

“So far as safety points are involved, if somebody actually needs to cover themselves, they will put their belongings in a belief and that is simple to do, so eradicating a search by title is pointless in my view. Will occur,” Kahman mentioned. “For me, good authorities has all the time been clear authorities. And it isn’t associated to measurement. We’re one of many largest counties within the state and the extra transparency now we have carried out, the higher individuals really feel and complain much less.”

Primarily based on Bayer and Kahman’s feedback, it seems that permitting one to look by title in property tax inquiry software program makes it simpler for all events concerned to entry publicly out there property tax data. Moreover, if the argument is a matter of safety, eradicating the search characteristic doesn’t remove entry to the data, however solely results in a extra cumbersome route to seek out it, akin to submitting an FOIA request, which may reveal The names of each property proprietor within the county.

Editor’s Word: This story has been up to date to incorporate a press release from Laurel Prusing.

Nick Meister / CU-Citizen Entry

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