by Martha Quetsch
Facing off April 7 in the Blackberry Township Assessor’s race will be incumbent Uwe Rotter and Bonnie Wilcox, both of Elburn.
Rotter has lived in the village for 12 years and Wilcox has made it her home for 11 years.
Both candidates are certified Illinois assessing officers.
Uwe Rotter has been assessor since 2007, when the Blackberry Township Board appointed him to the position to replace Karen Becker, who retired before finishing her term.
Previously, Rotter worked for the township for five years.
â€œOver these years, I have established close ties not only with a lot of constituents, but also with key people of the agencies that are funded through property taxes,â€ Rotter said.
Rotter’ goals, if re-elected as assessor, include monitoring the market and applying assessment changes to reflect declining property values; educating taxpayers on how to lower their tax payments; and improving the visibility of assessment details so that taxpayers can compare theirs to others, locally.
â€œI hope to eliminate the misconception that many taxpayers have about the property tax system,â€ Rotter said.
Among those misconceptions, he said, is that lowering assessments will lower property tax bills; he said that is not necessarily true.
Rotter said even when a property’s assessment goes up, its owner could pay less in property taxes than the year before; an individual’s property taxes are dependent upon how much a taxing body levies compared to the total worth of all properties within their community, he said.
Rotter said skills he will bring to the assessor’s job include expertise in electronic data systems. He wants to improve the township’s website to provide property taxpayers what their assessments are composed of, by line item.
He said he wants taxpayers to be aware of, and use, any possible exemptions they might qualify for to help reduce their tax payments.
â€œNobody deserves to be over-assessed,â€ Rotter said.
Toward that goal, Rotter started monthly taxpayer workshops this year at the township building. Topics include the property tax cycle, how assessments are being developed, the Board of Review Process and what the future will bring.
Bonnie Wilcox said she will bring extensive experience to the township assessor position, if elected. For more than 15 years, she has been a deputy assessor for Milton Township in DuPage County, which includes Wheaton and Glen Ellyn.
â€œI am running (for Blackberry Township Assessor) because I think it’s time for me to bring my expertise to this area,â€ Wilcox said. â€œI have the willingness and the experience and the knowledge to work with property owners and provide better services.â€
In her position at Milton Township, she has measured homes for assessment, worked with homeowners, and gone in front of the DuPage County Board of Review and the Property Tax Appeal Board, she said.
â€œI get great enjoyment from my work. I like comparing properties to other homes, and the whole mathematics aspect of it,â€ Wilcox said.
She said her biggest passion is helping seniors review their assessments, to make sure they are being assessed correctly and obtain the exemptions they deserve.
â€œIf I can help anyone, seniors and others, to lower their assessments if I see just cause, I will,â€ Wilcox said.
Wilcox said that by state statute, assessments must be based on the past three years of property values. So if she takes office in January 2010, at that time the assessments would be based on 2007 through 2009 values, which will bring up some assessments, she said.
Letting the public know about how assessments work is one of her priorities.
â€œI would like to inform residents by meeting with homeowners associations and working with them. I really want to get out there and educate,â€ Wilcox said. â€œI feel communication between the assessor’s office and residents has been a little bit lacking.â€