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Kaegi drops request for temporary staff after watchdogs raise alarm

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and Chicago city hall

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and Chicago city hall

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi dropped his request for county commissioners to lend him temporary staffers after watchdogs called the move inappropriate.

Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard and county Compliance Officer Letitia Dominici on Monday said the assessor’s request “violates the principles” of a federal consent decree aimed at eliminating patronage and favoritism in government hiring, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kaegi acquiesced, releasing a statement through a spokesman saying he and his team “appreciate the concerns raised” and are “withdrawing our request for volunteers.”

Commissioners chaffed last week when a deputy from the assessor’s office asked for “as many of your staff as you can spare” to help answer phones from taxpayers about their latest round of property tax bills.

An independent audit last month found Kaegi’s office uses outdated technology and employees a fraction of the staff needed to ensure accurate property tax assessments.

Data released by county officials last week showed homeowners around Downtown and the city’s North Side are in for a serious tax hike this year, thanks to higher assessments in 2018. And based on Kaegi’s first round of assessments this year, north-suburban property owners are bracing for sharply higher tax bills in 2020. [Chicago Sun-Times]Alex Nitkin

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