How to file a property tax appeal

URBANA – If the arrival of property tax notices has you muttering under your breath and complaining to family and friends but paying the bill with no questions asked, there is an alternative. You can appeal your property tax bill.

Statistics show the move often pays off. The Champaign County Board of Review heard 953 complaints from county taxpayers in 2006. More than six out of every 10 – 61 percent – received some level of reduction in assessed value based on evidence that showed recent purchase prices, independent appraisal values and listing prices of property. Thirty-nine percent had no reduction in assessed valuation.

Assessments: Some under, some over

CHAMPAIGN – They are some of the most stately houses in Champaign, home to some of the most successful people in town.

The owners are often familiar local names. They own development firms and fast-food companies. Some are high-powered attorneys or University of Illinois professors. Their expansive homes and tree-filled yards surround the Champaign Country Club, in central Champaign.

8 neighborhoods with underassessment

Eight of the 33 neighborhoods in City of Champaign Township have higher-priced homes that tend to be underassessed compared with lower-priced homes, according to a statistic called the price-related differential.

Overall, however, the township falls within acceptable boundaries for the price-related differential, which is calculated using data from home sale prices and assessed values within a neighborhood.

City attorney brings experience, laughter to post

URBANA – A tortured soul Ronald O'Neal is not.

O'Neal, Urbana's new acting city attorney, is a friendly bear of a man, with the emphasis on the friendly. He looks younger than his 41 years and breaks into laughter often.

Paying final respects

TUSCOLA – Hundreds of mourners paid their respects to Tommy Martin on Saturday, filing past his squad car draped in black cloth outside Tuscola Community High School.

Inside the gym, an honor guard stood by the flag-covered casket and one entire wall was lined with flowers.

Board members won't rush in developing building plan

CHAMPAIGN – Schools that need major renovations. An obligation to put more elementary seats in north Champaign. A 97-year-old elementary school with nine different floor levels. And a skeptical public, wary of past financial mismanagement and a controversial last-minute siting for a new school before a failed referendum question last year.

It won't be an easy task for Champaign school officials to put together a plan for their buildings and get the community to pay for it. The school board began work last week, discussing how it will develop such a plan.

Credit union's new location brings more space, privacy

URBANA – The University of Illinois Employees Credit Union has moved its office in the Illini Union.

The office, formerly located in the union's west hallway, is now toward the south end of the east hallway.

Danville dam cited in engineering report

SPRINGFIELD – A state report released on Friday recommended millions of dollars worth of safety improvements at 25 dams across Illinois, including one on the Vermilion River in Danville.

"Today, we're taking an important step toward making Illinois' waterways safer," said a statement from Gov. Rod Blagojevich. "The information contained in this report will serve as a solid basis to make people more aware of dangers surrounding dams and create better warnings to help people avoid them."

Provena's status could cloud up again

SPRINGFIELD – Provena Covenant Medical Center is once again tax-exempt, following a judge's ruling Friday that found the Urbana hospital qualifies for a property tax break as both a religious and charitable institution.

But Covenant's status could quickly turn murky once again.

Ex-administrator legacy for UI, musicians

URBANA – Jerry Tessin was instrumental in just about everything that had to do with instruments over the last 30 years.

The longtime University of Illinois administrator booked the contract players for concerts at the Assembly Hall and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, performed in a legendary tour of the Soviet Union with the late John Garvey, and shared a stage with Elvis Presley, playing trumpet.