Champaign County Board of Review Gets New Members

July 06, 2012

The Champaign County Board of Review - the three-member panel that hears appeals of property tax assessments in the county - now has two new members.

The Champaign County Board voted last month to appoint Democrat Elizabeth Patton and Republican Steve Whitsitt to 2-year terms on the Board of Review - replacing Wayne Williams and Steve Bantz. The third board member, Democrat Laura Sandefur, is in the middle of her term, which ends next year.

The vote came after some county board members noted complaints about Board of Review performance from several areas, including the public, other county officials, and the state panel that hears appeals on Board of Review rulings.

Urbana Democrat Christopher Alix voted for the changes on the Board of Review ... and says he hopes the new lineup will improve its performance.

"I think we want to see a Board of Review that we're not receiving taxpayer complaints about", said Alix. "We want to hear positive comments from the township supervisors, and the from the supervisor of assessments, in terms of what it's like reporting for the Board of Review. And we want to see evidence that the Property Tax Appeal Board cases are getting the attention that they should be getting from the Board of Review."

Alix says he had heard complaints that the Champaign County Board of Review often failed to respond to state Appeal Board requests to defend its rulings.

Republican Steve Bensyl of Royal also voted for the new Board of Review members. But he says it was hard to be sure who was to blame for the Review Board's performance problems.

"It was just so much of a he-said she-said type of situation for me, that there was no way I could possibly know where the real problems lie", said Bensyl. "It was a lot of finger-pointing. And so, we had some qualified candidates that applied. And I was certainly in the camp personally that, let's just kind of clean house and start over."

County Board Chair Pius Weibel had originally wanted to reappoint Williams but replace Bantz on the review board. But he eventually withdrew Williams' name in the face of continued opposition on the county board. Weibel says he believes Williams performed well as a Board of Review member, but that a culmination of problems damaged the county board's support for him and Bantz. Weibel declined to give details about the review board's problems, cut said some of it was due to problems in "interoffice communications".

Service on the Champaign County Board of Review is a paid, three-quarter time position. Elizabeth Patton was named the new Board of Review chair at an organizational meeting this week. She says any controversy with the panel is past, and that the new board is working well.

Story source: WILL