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BOMA/Chicago President Derrick Johnson Testifies in Opposition to Data Exposure Legislation

April 7, 2021


BOMA/Chicago President Derrick Johnson appeared at the Illinois House Property Tax Subcommittee on April 1 to testify in opposition to House Bill 860 and House Bill 3529.

The legislation, being forwarded by the Cook County Assessor’s Office, would mandate all commercial properties submit confidential data to the Cook County Assessor’s Office each year.

BOMA/Chicago joins business associations, labor unions, and policy experts across the State in opposition to the legislation, for multiple reasons.

  • Mandating data exposure is unnecessary. The Assessor’s Office already obtains enough data to assess commercial buildings. There is no need to compel every property to submit to a burdensome and unnecessary process under threat of substantial fees for noncompliance, particularly when the Assessor will not be using an individual property’s data to determine that property’s assessment. The public would be better served by mandating that the Assessor’s Office provide transparency into what it does with all the data it already collects and how it is used to determine individual assessments, which is otherwise a black box to those outside the Office.
  • Mandatory data exposure is not a common practice. Only a handful of jurisdictions across the nation actively require mandatory data submission. Conversely, many jurisdictions use voluntary data which produces sufficient sampling of data for mass appraisal data purposes. The International Association of Assessing Officers standards do not promote mandatory disclosure when a voluntary system is a viable alternative.
  • Maintaining privacy of the exposed data is a grave concern. Building owners and managers also have serious concerns about how an under-funded government agency will protect confidential data and prevent cyber-security breaches. Mandated data would include tax return information, operating expenses, appraisals, rent rolls, leases, utility bills, photographs, and more.

“This proposal does not help the businesses, including 17,000 small businesses, that reside in our office buildings and who ultimately pay the property tax bill,” said Derrick Johnson, BOMA/Chicago President. “We need to shift our focus to real reform and ensuring we have a tax assessment system that provides fairness and equity for everyone, and that promotes growth for residences and businesses alike.”