Oak Park’s oldest business, paying $107K per year in property taxes, closes after 130 years
H.J. Mohr, which has sold crushed limestone, sand and clay from its south Oak Park location since 1893, is closed for business, citing “financial woes.”
Whatever the circumstances, the company’s nearly $107,000 annual property tax bill on its plant at 915 S. Maple St. last year didn’t help.
Cook County Treasurer records show H.J. Mohr paid $106,523 in property taxes last year and made a $58,588 property tax payment on March 1, its first installment on this year’s bill, which promises to be even higher.
Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb told the Wednesday Journal that the village "stands ready to help them in any way we can.”
But he didn’t mention any efforts to help reduce the company’s massive property tax bill, which has stood to make H.J. Mohr, like any business that might take its place and pay the same, significantly less competitive.
Three locations, 50 percent off
In contrast, for three similar plants in Lake County, Indiana, Smith Ready Mix of Valparaiso pays a total of $38,493, or less than half of what H.J. Mohr pays for its single location.
For a similarly sized lot to H.J. Mohr's Oak Park property, in Schererville, Indiana on U.S. Highway 41, Smith Ready Mix pays 95 percent less, or $5,403 in property taxes, according to the Lake County Treasurer.
That property is valued at $247,590, records show.
Smith pays $22,764 for a plant in East Chicago, Indiana on a railroad spur, valued at $714,710.
The company pays $10,326 for a third in Cedar Lake, near the Illinois border adjacent to southern Will County, valued at $347,660.
Indiana's Property Tax Cap law limits property taxes to 3 percent of the value of a business property, or $9,000 on a $300,000 property.
On its three properties, worth a collective $1,309,660, the company's effective property tax rate is 2.9 percent.
A 2015 Chicago Tribune study found the median effective business property tax rate in Oak Park was 8.38 percent, or $25,140 on a $300,000 property.
42 percent assessment increase
Last year, the Cook County Assessor valued H.J. Mohr's 915 S. Maple property at $1,058,660, an effective rate of 10 percent.
This year, the county spiked the value of the property 42 percent, to $1,499,604, guaranteeing a much higher bill.
Still, that's nearly $1 million less than the property was allegedly worth in 2012, when the assessor valued it at $2,426,044.
That year, H.J. Mohr hired Klafter & Burke, the law firm of powerful Chicago Ald. Edward Burke (14th Ward), to appeal and get that valuation cut by one third, to $804,512.
Klafter & Burke has appealed for H.J. Mohr the past three years, but has received no more reductions.