Dan Patlak - Commissioner Cook County Board of Review
As your representative at the Cook County Board of Review, I would like to take a moment to provide a brief update on operations at the Board amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without the advanced technology now in use by the Board of Review, most state, county and local government offices have severely scaled back their operations while the Board of Review has offered a stark contrast by diligently continuing its work for the people of Cook County. Board services have operated uninterrupted, and thanks to the work ethic of our staff, the hardworking people of Cook County have continued to receive results of their 2019 tax year property tax appeals in a timely manner.
On Monday, March 16 during a morning conference call with heads of every county office and department, President Toni Preckwinkel announced that due to the Corona virus, the county building would be closed starting the following morning and only essential personnel would be allowed to enter the building for the foreseeable future. The three Board of Review commissioners anticipated a week earlier that this might be the eventual decision and put in place a contingency plan to ensure the continuity of the work of the Board so that the mailing of tax bills would not be delayed. That same afternoon, each commissioner’s staff of analysts met with their supervisors and received instructions that they were to take home their laptop computers, docking stations and monitors. Pre-packaged kits of tech supplies were made available to those who needed them. Instructions on how to connect with the county VPN were given as well, along with information about who to contact if they had any difficulties getting set up.
By Tuesday morning, 90% of Board analysts were up adjudicating appeal files in their homes and by Wednesday morning every analyst was working at full capacity. That week, the Board as a whole completed over 7,000 file reviews, an amount at the high end of production in the best of circumstances. That production has only increased in the weeks following. While technological difficulties did crop up for individual analysts from time to time, they were quickly addressed by Board management and tech staff. The last of our hearings for the Central Business District were conducted over the phone instead of in person by a select few of our top analysts.
Our analysts have embraced the work at home challenge and have been operating from their living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and family rooms while not missing a beat. With a fifth year in a row of a record setting appeal volume, our analysts are working mandatory overtime. Now, some are beginning their work day at 5 AM and working overtime until 5 PM. Others are logging in during the evening to work some extra hours.
The fact that the Board of Review has continued operating at full capacity during the shutdown is testament to the implementation of our award-winning Digital Appeals Processing System (DAPS) five years earlier and subsequent upgrades made to it each year thereafter. Not only did the DAPS make it possible to process a record number of appeals, it also provided the flexibility to Board management to allow our employees to work from home. This has included not only analysts but also human resources, payroll, scheduling, IT and balancing personnel.
As things stand today, the Board of Review is on schedule to finish adjudicating its record 253,000 appeals by our originally anticipated date of May 10.
Dan Patlak - Cook County Board of Review
Candidates for Office
Tom Morrison - State Representative