New Website Details Cook County Local Governments Debt

Property owners provided with unprecedented level of transparency through detailed financial information

The known collective debt of governments in Cook County has risen to $140 billion, according to the latest figures provided by the office of County Treasurer Maria Pappas.  Property owners now can see on the Cook County Property Tax Portal how much of their money goes to each government that taxes them, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today.

Pappas issued a new report showing the latest figures compiled from data submitted by local county governments in response to the Debt Disclosure Ordinance, which Pappas helped pass before the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Pappas reported today that 489 of 553 primary taxing agencies submitted data for 2011, and their known total debt was at least $140 billion, an increase of $32 billion from 2010.  On a per-household basis, debt is $87,720 for Chicago and $35,774 for the suburbs, Pappas said.

With the click of a mouse, property owners can now also see how much of their money goes to each government that taxes them, through a county website providing information on billions of dollars of debt-data.

The report can be found in a user-friendly and consolidated fashion via the new Cook County Property Tax Portal at and the Treasurer’s website: Taxpayers will also be able to see a 10-year levy (taxing) history of each taxing agency on Second Installment property tax bills.  The website has been modified to permit taxpayers to “drill down” into the 10 or more agencies listed on the bill that request tax monies.  With the click of an icon next to each agency, finances of the agency show:

•    Budgeted revenues.
•    The amount of tax money collected from the property owner.
•    Outstanding debt, including for pensions.
•    A 10-year levy (taxing) history.
•    Percentage of levy (taxing) change over 10 years.
“For the first time, taxpayers will be able to see where their money goes and how much their governments owe with this sort of ease,” President Toni Preckwinkle said.  “Putting this information in the hands of residents further strengthens the relationship between government and the people it serves. I believe this is a model for transparency that all taxpayers deserve.”

In June of 2011, Pappas said the total debt of Cook County’s municipalities, school districts, park districts, fire districts, library districts and other taxing agencies was at least $108 billion for 2010.

Noting the $32 billion increase for 2011, Pappas said:  “As the taxing agencies report more fully and accurately, the dimensions of their debt gets clearer.”

In 10 years, property taxes in Cook County rose 48 percent, from $7.88 billion in 2000 to $11.69 billion in 2010 – twice the rate of inflation, Pappas said.

“A single property tax payment is distributed among 10 to 20 different governments,” Pappas said.  “These websites’ new functionality permits owners of homes, businesses and land across Cook County to review the financials for each government that claims a share of their taxes.”

Maria Pappas



“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein

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