BREAKING NEWS - Assessment question swirls around Gary Shadid

DeWayne Bartels

A question is flying around Peoria County regarding the tax bill for commercial property purchased in 2006 by Peoria County Board of Review member Gary Shadid. 

Peoria County Board member Bob Baietto, who represents North Peoria, confirmed that Thursday afternoon.

The question is why is property purchased by Shadid in 2006 assessed $87,470 below the purchase price.

This question is arising just before Shadid faces re-appointment to the board of review — the body that hears property tax protests.

Shadid responded to questions posed by the Peoria Times-Observer, promising to look into the issue.

The question

A copy of an Illinois Real Estate Transfer Declaration shows Shadid purchased the property at 3810 N. Prospect Road in 2006 for $275,000. The property consists of a building and a parking lot.

However, Peoria County property tax records for 2008 for that property state the assessed value is $187,530, a difference of $87,470.

Shadid said at his office Thursday afternoon he did not have time for questions about the assessment.

Handed documents showing the figures, Shadid tossed them back at a reporter and said, “I don’t know what this property is assessed at. I’m only a 25 percent owner in this company.”

Baietto said he has questions about the assessment and he expects to get answers.

“I’m very curious about this. I find it interesting. I’m waiting for more information.”

Board member Mike Phelan (D-Peoria Heights) said he is also curious.

“At this point I’m standing by (Shadid), but I’m interested in some answers.”

Peoria County Board Chairman Tom O’Neill (D- Bartonville) said he is asking the county board next week to re-appoint Shadid to his post on the Peoria County Board of Review.

O’Neill said he is not curious about the assessment because, he said, Shadid did not set the assessment.

“There’s a lot of politics involved in this,” O’Neill said.

“It’s one of those things ... Both parties are guilty of it.”

Shadid responds

“Thank you for pointing out the difference between the assessed value of a building that I hold a minority interest in.  I was unaware of the difference,” Shadid wrote in an e-mail reponse.

He requested an inquiry be made request that you inquire with the township assessor as to how the assessed value was arrived.

“Neither I, nor any member of the board of review, is responsible for assessments. That is the job of each township assessor. I suggest you direct your question in that direction. My review of documents prepared in regards to the closing and recording of this property indicate everything required of the partnership was done properly,” Shadid wrote.

“Finally, I will be discussing the assessed value of the building in question with my partners and the township assessor.”

Tax protests

Baietto said he finds this revelation interesting because he has sat in on Peoria County Tax Committee meetings where citizens have registered complaints that their assessments are too high and they find a deaf ear from the board of review.

In late April, Baietto sat among county board members who heard from Michael Maloof, president of Maloof Realty, say  the county board needs to pay attention to the concerns being raised about a board of review that is not responsive to taxpayers.

“There is a growing body of concern,” Maloof said.

“There seems to be a disbelief in credibility. So much documentation is set aside. Concern is growing ... The information is credible.”

Brian Monge, an agent with Jim Maloof Realty, spoke also.

“Fairness and market value is what I’m looking for,” Monge said.

Monge said when a home is on the market for months at $100,000 and sells for $80,000, the market determined the home is worth $80,000, not $100,000.

Monge said the board of review members are ignoring the market and setting valuations at whatever they decide.

“I’m puzzled. They don’t have to explain their reasoning until an appeal goes to the state,” Monge said.

“How can they know better than the market?”

James Lansberry of Peoria said he bought a home in Central Peoria for $21,000 after it sat on the market for 18 months at $39,000.

He said the house was assessed at $64,000 and he got nowhere when appealing to the board of review.

“These are people who are supposed to serve us,” Lansberry said.

“We are here because we feel we have been treated unjustly.”

Allen Mayer, chairman of the tax committee, after hearing the complaints, said two of the three members of the board of review — Gary Shadid and Nancy Horton — are up for re-appointment to the board of review this month.   

“We will not let this drop,” Mayer said.

“We have some policy issues we’ll want to talk about next month in the tax committee, and in the months to come.”

Integrity

O’Neill did not respond directly to a question about integrity.

Last year at Shadid’s direction, Colleen Whalen, the office manager for the board of review, told a Peoria Times-Observer reporter the current board of review has integrity, and therein lies the reason for much of the criticism of the board of review.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Shadid said last year.

He said there are 86,000 parcels in Peoria County, and that if property owners feel their taxes are too high, their issue is with the taxing bodies they elected, the levies enacted by those taxing bodies or the assessor.

“The board of review becomes a target because we are visible ... The board of review will always be the recipient of this. It’s sort of a kill-the-messenger mentality,” Shadid said then.

But, when it came time for the harshest assessment of why the system needed change, Shadid called on Whalen to deliver it.

Shadid asked Whalen to talk about the past procedures of the board.

Whalen said, in the past, with no standardized policies or forms, tax protesters would come into the office and tell the board of review what amount they would stipulate to.

“They would tell the board of review by stipulating to these numbers, we will reduce your workload,” Whalen said in March 2008.

“When you reform something, those who benefited the most from a lack of integrity shout the loudest.”

She said the new rules in place have restored integrity to the board of review.

Shadid said the board of review just stipulating to what a tax protester says is a fair figure is not fulfilling the board’s mission.

Whalen added, “The professional tax representatives had a comfortable familiarity with the board. This year, it was like they said, ‘I’m going to give you 1,500 cases, but I’ll help you out if you’ll stipulate,’” Whalen said.

That did not happen in 2008, she said.

“The familiarity is gone,” Whalen said.

“It’s still a friendly process, but not at the cost of our integrity.”

Shadid smiled.

“Some who are here all the time have been put off by the distance we have put in place.”