During the February meeting of the Finance Committee, the County's 2022 property tax levy was discussed. The County's base levy of $720,483,542 has remained constant since 1994. This is thanks to careful budgeting and diligent use of alternative financing sources. As a result, Cook County's portion of property taxes has remained low.
Due to the County's status as a home rule unit of government, it is not subject to Property Tax Extension Limit Law (PTELL), which is a rule that limits the number of tax extensions for certain types of taxing bodies, such as school districts.
Cook County levies taxes for:
Capital Fund - Each year, the County reassesses its capital programming needs concerning capital improvements for facilities, capital equipment purchases, and transportation & highway planning. This includes an annual review of the County’s present, mid-term, and long-term capital needs, ensuring that available funding is matched to the projects that address critical needs as determined by the capital renewal and deferred maintenance assessment.
Corporate Fund - The Corporate Fund is one of the general operating funds of the County, and includes the majority of the property tax-related functions of County government, as well as general administrative functions of the County. It funds agencies such as the County Assessor, County Treasurer, County Clerk, Board of Review, and the various Offices under the President, including the supplemental pension appropriation of $345 million. While the Corporate Fund derives most of its revenue from departmental fees and the County Sales Tax, after all funds have been appropriately allocated, the remainder of the funding is made available to the General Fund.
Public Safety Fund - The Public Safety Fund is comprised of the County’s criminal justice system and certain departments responsible for ensuring certain aspects of public safety such as jails, courts, and related programs. Agencies that are a part of this fund include the Sheriff’s Office, State’s Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Office of the Chief Judge, the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, and the Department of Emergency Management & Regional Security. The revenue supporting this fund is mostly derived from the property tax levy, departmental fees, and non-property taxes such as the County Sales Tax, Alcoholic Beverage Tax, and Amusement Tax.
Health Enterprise Fund - The Health Enterprise Fund encompasses the County’s public health care system, including the Department of Public Health, Stroger Hospital, Provident Hospital, Cermak Health Services, the Ambulatory/ Community Health Network Clinics, and Health Plan Services, which includes CountyCare. The costs incurred by these entities help to determine the portion of property taxes allocated to this need.
Bond and Interest Fund - The Bond and Interest fund is utilized for County debt service payments. This fund receives revenue from a portion of the property tax levy, which is determined by the Chief Financial Officer based on the debt services needs for the upcoming year on the County's outstanding bonds.
Employee Annuity & Benefit Fund - The Annuity and Benefits Fund is utilized for statutory payments to the Pension Fund as defined in Article 9 of the Illinois Pension Code.
Election Fund - The Election Fund was established to pay for the costs of elections administered by the County Clerk and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. The fund’s revenues are derived from property taxes levied for this purpose and interest earned on investments. Every two years this fund sees an increase that correlates with the cost of administering elections.
In addition to the base levy, the County captures expiring TIFs, incentives, and new property, which serves to increase the overall levy in aggregate.
Watch Commissioner Britton's comments on the tax levy from the Feb 9 Finance Committee Meeting: