High School, General, McHenry Community High School
Other, Business Management, Lake Forest School of Management; Salutatorian
Other, Certifited Illinois Assessing Officer advanced designation, Illinois Property Assessment Institute
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
My experience extends beyond valuation to include supervision, budgetary and network/office technology. I was first in the county for extended hours during appeal, home visits for homebound seniors and Ask the Assessor forum. My office was first in the county to be fully automated and display assessment information on-line, allowing staff members more time to process assessments more efficiently. I still only have four full-time staff members, the same as in 1995, being budget conscious without cutting levels of service. Newsletter and website articles educate the public of assessment items. I’ve worked with legislators regarding assessment related bills and served on the Illinois Assessors Association; currently chairman of the Illinois Property Assessment Institute, the main provider of assessment education. I’m the only county assessment person to receive an award by my piers for ‘leadership and distinguished achievement in the Illinois assessment profession’. Appeal instructions and data collection sheet has been available on our township website. While I cannot please all, everyone is treated fairly and professionally. Fairness for all sometimes results in me telling an individual property owner we can’t reduce their assessment without better evidence. I don’t and won’t pander to special interest groups.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
I’d continue technology efforts to maximize labor and data transparency while improving staff member skills and education. I often stress that we need to work smarter, not harder. My office is on the cutting edge with ongoing efforts to have less paper and more documents scanned for ease and accuracy of retrieval. Along with technology, I’m only as good as the staff that surrounds me. True leadership continues teaching them to excel, building their own skills, which in turn helps all property owners. Expand on public education I’ve already written to help understand that assessment reductions don’t guarantee lower tax bills. Four consecutive years of assessment reductions in McHenry Township still have people very upset about tax bills. Much of the public continues to think of me as the ‘tax assessor’ when, in fact, the assessor does not set levy amounts or the tax rates. Assessors don’t raise assessments when governments need more money. Taxing bodies can only levy what is allowable within the law. The assessment divides the tax burden. Within education expansion I would continue to let the public know what data they can collect that will be meaningful to determine if their assessment is correct.
Would you support freezing your taxing district\'s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
The assessor does not have a vote on the township board, however, McHenry Township Supervisor and Trustees have already frozen the levy both, in 2011 and 2012. As a result my budget was less in 2012-2013 than in 2009. I support these decisions. Everyone at home has had to do more with less, we need to be responsible and do the same.
What one decision by the township board do you most disagree with and why?
This is difficult to answer. Unlike some other units of government we, in McHenry Township, get along. I believe that’s attributed to the open lines of communication. I provide board members with assessment information in case they are stopped on the street with questions; they contact me if they desire. I attend the township meetings, giving an assessor report to the township board members and the public. Because of this open line of communication the board understands more about the assessment office. The board members know I am conservative with the budget. Even though the assessor is not a voting member of the board I can provide input on things if they ask but it is their responsibility to vote on their decisions. I can’t recall any decisions I was unhappy enough to write down. I supported freezing the elected salaries for the upcoming terms.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
Proper use of taxpayers’ dollars by: 1) freezing the levy for the second consecutive year 2) curtailing budgets yet continuing to provide a consistent level of service to residents 3) freezing elected salaries for the next four years 4) searching for opportunities for efficiencies is an ongoing process 5) opening of the community based FISH food pantry based FISH food pantry
Why should voters elect you to office?
I hope voters see through any negative things that have been thrown at me for what they are. I’m honored to have held this office since my appointment in 1995. I’ve not had an opponent in the past but that was the choice of the public. Just because someone decides to challenge now doesn’t automatically make them the better choice. I’ve made tough decisions, unpopular for some, didn’t make reductions for some of my opponents’ supporters and have given my heart and soul to provide McHenry Township residents with fair and consistent practices. My office is open to people year round, not just during appeal. During appeal we see as many people as humanly possible (approximately 450 signed in for 2012). I’m very empathetic to the market conditions today; assessments have gone down the last four consecutive years. It takes more than knowledge of valuation to be the assessor. I plan for 48 sq miles; how to get the task done, what resources are available (budget, staff, technology), what is fair and completion by deadlines. I have an upwardly mobile resume of accomplishments; see www.perschke4assessor.com. Thanks for your interest and, hopefully, your vote to keep experience and accomplishments.
Other Local Races
Kelley Ann Kepes