POSTS

JANUARY 14, 2017 | Facebook

Thank you for the vote in confidence. I will not be the one who lets you down. I appreciate you and will fight for you or so help me God. I am humbled by the amount of support in the last 4 hours. Within 4 hours, I have 105 likes on my FB campaign page, conversely, Mr Crowley has only 133 likes since December 2, 2016. That speaks volumes. Time for a change and a move in the opposite direction!

JANUARY 16, 2017 | Facebook

You have before you someone on YOUR side. I too despise unfair real estate assessments. I hate the injustice of ignoring the Illinois Property Tax Code. I’m concerned with “cowboy assessing” and renegade politicians with personal agendas.

I am dedicated to making your voice heard. I echo your concerns. I know the process is wrong. I am willing and able to make things right. I understand the change you seek. You have before you someone on YOUR side.

JANUARY 18, 2017 | Facebook

Time for change. Fairness in taxing real estate. I am dedicated to making your voice heard. I echo your concerns, which are the same as my own. "Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives." - Ronald Reagan

JANUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

EARLY VOTING: If you live within City of Rockford limits - The next Consolidated Primary Election is February 28, 2017. Early voting begins January 19 and ends on February 27, 2017. For more information contact the City of Rockford Board of Election Commissioners @ (815) 987-5750 or visit http://voterockford.com.

If you are outside City of Rockford limits - The next Consolidated General Election is April 4, 2017. Early voting begins February 23 and ends April 3, 2017. For more information contact the Winnebago County Clerk @ (815) 319-4252 or visit http://www.winnebagocountyclerk.com.

JANUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

The change you seek is in the end zone. I will guard against both cowboy assessing and renegade politicians with personal agendas. I understand what is wrong with real estate taxation and why. I am your line of defense. I am tenacious and will tackle your concerns... point by point, goal after goal!

JANUARY 26, 2017 | Facebook

Thank you for your support! Thus far, 90% of visitors at http://jh4rockford.com like or follow the Jessica Horstman for Assessor FBpage. I break that down as my mission is your mission, my concerns are your concerns. Support and commitment is the beauty of election! When we act as one, it is easy to be selfless. Public service is not for individual glory. Public office is about a leader devoted to the people. YOU have my attention. Thank you for your support! You are appreciated and humbling!

JANUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

Election is not about the candidate. It is about YOU. You elect someone with your best interest in mind. You elect someone you know, like, and trust. It is paramount that your concerns, questions, and needs are addressed. I invite you to share what matters most to YOU. I encourage you to help others gain understanding. Please feel free to post your questions or comments to start open discussions. I know the Rockford Township Assessor’s Office better than the Assessor knows it himself. No question is off limits. No issue is too taboo. I am not afraid to speak the truth nor am I shy about what goes on behind closed doors at the Assessor’s Office. It’s okay to ask an honest question and receive a simple straight-forward answer.

JANUARY 26, 2017 | Facebook

FEBRUARY 2, 2017 | Facebook

Did you know…
The Winnebago County Board of Review determined that 68% of four to six unit apartment buildings are valued WRONG by the Rockford Township Assessor? Who do you know who owns investment property? PDF of statistics

FEBRUARY 2, 2017 | Facebook

Did you know...
the Winnebago County Board of Review ruled that 29% of commercial buildings and 48% of commercial buildings with apartments are valued WRONG by the Rockford Township Assessor? Are you one of them? PDF of statistics

FEBRUARY 3, 2017 | Facebook

You should be able to UNDERSTAND the formula used to tax your real estate and be CONFIDENT that the process is above the table and FAIR, all the way across the board! No matter who you are. Period.

FEBRUARY 6, 2017 | Facebook

DID YOU KNOW…
It has been 10 years since residential valuation in Rockford Township has been adjusted to reflect the current market conditions. Even worse, when it was last updated in 2007, the revaluation was based on the 2004-2006 marketplace, the most profitable era in the last 4 decades!

This is NOT how property valuation is supposed to be. It is wrong. It is not protecting YOU. It is slanted. It is unfair. It is time to change it. I know how. Vote April 4th to send a message.

FEBRUARY 6, 2017 | Facebook

DID YOU KNOW...
Annually, on purpose, and without concrete supporting evidence, the Assessor in Rockford Township increases residential assessments through the method of "removing Board of Review" reductions, in the name of "equalization", and in order to "reset" the value. Know the inside scoop: #1) "Reset" is a buzz word that means changing a value without cause during a general assessment year, #2) "To equalize" is a key phrase that means increased individually (based on subjectivity) and it is not uniform nor fairly applied to every similar parcel. #3) You can vote to make these wrongs right on April 4th.

FEBRUARY 8, 2017 | Facebook

Do you know how the Rockford Township Assessor revalues parcels each year? The incumbent reverse calculates the valuation of property based on the Equalization Factor he wants the County Supervisor of Assessments to apply to the entire Township. Yes, it is an ugly way to value property. You deserve better.

In Rockford township, in order for the Assessor to have a pre-determined Equalization Factor, he plugs into an Excel spreadsheet the total sum of decreases and increases in three categories of real estate to tell him how much he must lower or raise values. He then lowers or raises residential, commercial, and industrial real estate by a “TOTAL OF X”. The revaluation process is as all-encompassing as that. It is an ugly way to value property. You should be treated with more respect and your tax dollars guarded from such bias.

BACK STORY: Every year, Township Assessors must turn over their books to the County Supervisor of Assessments by a date certain. Prior to that, the Supervisor of Assessments emails to the Township Assessor an Excel spreadsheet named “Adjustment Calculator”, which the Township Assessor can use to estimate what the Township Equalization Factor will be based on the overall decreases and increases of value in residential, commercial, and industrial categories. The Equalization Factor is a tool the County Supervisor of Assessments uses to measure Township values to see if they are at level that is 33 1/3 of what “valid” sales reflect. If the Township, as a whole, is not at a level of 33 1/3 of valid sales, the County applies a factor to raise or lower all parcels by a uniform percentage. Likewise, if the County is not a level that is 33 1/3 of valid sales, the State applies a factor to raise or lower all parcels in the County by an equal percentage. If used lawfully, the Equalization Factor is not a bad thing. It is an excellent way to see how well Assessors are doing their job. However, manipulating the Equalization Factor, by arbitrarily modifying real estate values, is not only unethical… it is also borderline unlawful.

HISTORY OF EQUALIZATION FACTORS in Rockford Township since 2011:
In 2011, the incumbent wanted a factor that decreased values at least 5%, the factor was 0.9501 or -4.99%. In 2012, the incumbent wanted a factor that decreased values at least 5%, the factor was 0.9489 or -5.11%. In 2013, the incumbent wanted a factor that decreased values at least 5%, the factor was 0.9429 or -5.71%. In 2014, the incumbent wanted a factor that decreased values at least 5%, the factor was 0.9413 or -5.87%. In 2015, the incumbent did not want any factor, the factor was 1.0000 or 0% increase/decrease. In 2016, the incumbent did not want any factor, the factor was 1.0000 or 0% increase/decrease. In 2017… TBD.

FOOTNOTES: 1) If the Equalization Factor is equal to 1.0000, the State writes a $3K bonus check to the Township Assessor in order to reward him or her for a “JOB WELL DONE”. 2) 2015 is the year the incumbent started faithfully promoting the Assessment Defense Fund and asking taxing bodies to participate, but not of his own accord (that would be a conflict of interest), the official request was made in June 2016 by the Supervisor of Assessments, who is also the Clerk of the Board of Review. The Assessment Defense Fund is funded by YOUR tax dollars. Assessors can ask the Board of Review to use the money to purchase appraisals that prove the Assessor’s value is correct in order to prevail at State level of the appeal process. If the Board of Review chooses not to change the values at the County level, a fee appraisal is key evidence for them at the State level. Assessment year 2014 is the start of when the Board of Review began siding more with the Assessor than the owner. In 2013, 85% of appeals were reduced. In 2015, the number is as low as 65%. 3) If the Assessor or the Board of Review stops or limits the decreasing of real estate values, that means taxing bodies have a better protected budget and do not need to trim as much fat because the revenue from taxation is stewarded through the Assessor’s or Board of Review’s control of real estate valuations. 4) In order for the County to apply a negative Township Equalization Factor, that means the Assessor’s values must be too high to begin with. Conversely, to receive a factor of 1.0000, the Assessor must arbitrarily change values to have a tax base, which appears on paper, as if it is in line with State data (think about that). It is an ugly way to value property. You should be able to trust the Assessor, the one you elect, to fairly oversee the lawful application of the Property Tax Code and safeguard revaluations from taxing body pressure.

SOAP BOX MOMENT: If a taxing body has budget issues, it is not your fault, it is not the Assessor’s fault. It is not your duty to compensate for the taxing body’s blunder. It is not the Assessor’s, nor the Board of Review’s, place to control values to help a taxing body.

Here is a shocker: Revenue from taxes is projectable and can be forecasted as often as month to month. A change in revenue should NOT be a “surprise” to any taxing body. It’s only a surprise to those who do not understand how to calculate their own revenue nor monitor expenses regularly. In today’s era of digitalization, a taxing body can adjust their management of money to reflect the changes in the tax base as often as it occurs, for no other reason than at the start of the next fiscal year, no one is scrambling to make adjustments that could have been made all along. There are over 150 taxing districts in Winnebago County. It’s okay to expect a taxing body to manage their money and do EVERYTHING possible to rise above the wave of change instead of asking you throw a life ring when they find themselves drowning.

MY PLEDGE: If elected, the Assessor’s budget is shared with taxing district #011. You can count on me to do my best to keep you both informed and protected from the ones who want YOU to pay for their mistakes. I will not play games with your real estate value to appease ANY taxing body. It is an ugly way to value property. It is wrong. You deserve honest treatment and more respect. Your money should not be played with by any government body. Period. You work hard to support yourself. I’ll work hard to protect your real estate values from Cowboy assessing.

FEBRUARY 9, 2017 | Facebook

Thank a tax assessor employee when you speak with them. It is one thing to have a thankless job and another to repeatedly accept unwarranted blame. The tax assessor staff take a lot of direct heat for problems outside of their control. Understand that the Assessor’s employees do not have the power to affect change, only the elected official does. The elected Assessor runs the office. Employees are on payroll to aid the Assessor in whatever capacity the Assessor requires. The staff in a tax assessor’s office generally want to do what is right, time and time again. They want to give you logical explanations and simple reasoning for real estate values and the process. They want the system to be fair, simple, easy to understand, and not convoluted. Real estate valuation for the purpose of taxation is no walk in the park for you OR them. Please thank a tax assessor employee when you speak with them! It is a thankless job that requires staff to explain issues outside of their control. Always keep in mind, the employees do NOT have the power to affect change, only the elected Assessor does. That’s a fact. Vote Jessica Horstman for Rockford Township Assessor on 4/4/17.

FEBRUARY 10, 2017 | Facebook

Work Hard, Play Hard.
Appreciate what matters most.
Have a blessed day!

FEBRUARY 13, 2017 | Facebook

     CALL TO ACTION:
     This election is not about a candidate. It is about YOU. You elect an individual with your best interest in mind.
     That individual requires the means to get their message out and that costs money!

     I am asking for your financial support to spread the message of “Fair and Equal Treatment in Assessing” to every voter in Rockford Township, because property taxes matter.

    All money collected will be used to spread the word that fair and uniform treatment is urgently needed and that we’re tired of governments picking winners and losers!

     With one voice, we are able to make a meaningful statement and send a clear message that elected officials ought to be held accountable not only to the Illinois Statute, but also to YOU.

     If you share the same vision and values, I urge you to partner with me to help make a bold change so that what is wrong, can be made right.

     Who else do you know who wants to get involved? Every little bit helps, and your support is APPRECIATED! ***DONATE NOW***

FEBRUARY 15, 2017 | Facebook

The Mayor's race for the City of Rockford is overshadowing the race for Rockford Township Assessor. The Tax Assessor race is receiving very little attention and is under the radar. Since when are property taxes not an issue?


The Office of the Assessor can affect your pocket book more than the Mayoral race. Where is the media coverage? The journalists columns? The debates between candidates? Is the office that establishes the taxing base not "news" worthy enough? Educate yourself and place importance on the real issues of taxation. Help get the word out and donate if you can. Campaigns are not free of charge and a lot goes on behind closed doors that needs to be made known. Get involved and help find supporters who believe in fair and equal taxation. Partner with a candidate who places more value in your hard earned cash than the taxing body's budget woes. Your vote matters. Don't believe otherwise.


Unequal treatment in the process of taxation is WRONG. The office of the Assessor is one of the only public positions that requires a State approved qualification. I have that. Allow me the opportunity to treat you fair. I can't fix how taxing bodies manage their money, but I can make RIGHT how you are taxed. I'm the only candidate with a resume and the only person who has audited the Rockford Township Assessor and the only person who is making public what goes on behind closed Assessor doors. Who do YOU want in charge of valuing your real estate for the purpose of taxing it?

FEBRUARY 16, 2017 | Facebook

Did you know…
Most homeowners with a disability do NOT know they can qualify for a tax exemption which reduces their tax bill by an estimated $300?

The exemption lowers the assessed value by $2,000. In the City of Rockford, where the tax rate is 15.2963%, that is a tax bill savings of $305.93! If you have a different tax rate, multiply $2,000 times your tax rate and that is your estimated savings.

The Disability exemption is NOT limited to seniors or veterans. ANY homeowner who occupies the residence on January 1 of the tax year, who has a Physician’s Statement of Disability, may qualify.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
If you qualified in 2016 for the exemption, it is NOT too late to submit your application in time for the calculation of the 2016 tax bill. The 2016 tax bill will be calculated April 2017, payable in June and September 2017.

The County Supervisor of Assessments doesn’t have the application (PTAX 343) online to apply. For your convenience, a PDF is AT THE BOTTOM of this post!

In order to qualify, you must meet ***ONE*** of the following conditions. number 5 is the qualification that is least known. Once you qualify for the exemption, you must renew it EVERY YEAR (PTAX 343-R).

PROOF OF DISABILITY
1) A Class 2 Illinois Disabled Person Identification Card from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Class 2 or Class 2A qualifies for this exemption. Note: Class 1 or 1A does not qualify.

2) Proof of Social Security Administration disability benefits which includes an award letter, verification letter or annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) letter (only Form SSA-4926-SM-DI). If you are under the age of 65 receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, proof includes a letter indicating SSI payments (SSA-L8151, SSA-L8155, or SSA-L8156).

3) Proof of Veterans Administration disability benefits which includes an award letter or verification letter indicating you are receiving a pension for a non-service connected disability.

4) Proof of Railroad or Civil Service disability benefits which includes an award letter or verification letter of total (100%) disability.

5) If you are unable to provide proof of your disability, you must submit a Physician’s Statement for Proof of Disability (PTAX 343-A) to your Chief County Assessment Officer (CCAO). This Form must be completed by a physician. The CCAO may require you to provide additional documentation. Note: You may also be required to be re-examined by an IDOR designated physician. You will be responsible for any costs incurred for your examination by any physician.

APPLICATION (PTAX 343), PHYSICIAN'S STATEMENT (PTAX 343-A), AND RENEWAL (PTAX 343-R) FOR DISABILITY TAX EXEMPTION

FEBRUARY 17, 2017 | Facebook

Did you know... The #1 question asked is "Why should I vote for you?"

You should vote for me if you want a person who understands the problems and is able to fix the problems. I worked in the Assessor's office for more than ten years and the current elected official isn't obeying the tax code for taxation as it is written.

Residential assessments have not been truly revalued since 2007, the most profitable the market has been in history, because 2007 values were based on sale years 2004-2006. 68% of 4-6 family apartments have a value the Board of Review determined the Assessor's value is WRONG. Businesses are being taxed unfairly and unequally. Commercial and industrial property have no formula to calculate value, which drives businesses outside the area, because they are not treated fair and equal.

The current culture of the position is to protect the taxing bodies budgets by controlling assessments. For no concrete reasons, many owners will have their real estate value skyrocket and the tax bill can be devasting, because it increases the mortgage payment... In some cases to the point a person can't afford to pay taxes where they are and they decide to move. Not all real estate owners are treated the same when their real estate is taxed. I will change all that.

The unethical practices of taxation need to stop. I know how to do it. Since I've been in the office 10 years, I will have no learning curve and I can go to work immediately! I know every jot and tittle of all the wrong AND all the right. I am the ONLY person who has audited the Rockford Township Assessor and his political policies.

If you are happy with the way things are you vote for the current man in office. If you want to see fairness and equal treatment, you vote for me.

You should vote for me if you want a person who understands the problems and is able to fix the problems.

FEBRUARY 21, 2017 | Facebook

ATTENTION WINNEBAGO COUNTY RESIDENTS  (OUTSIDE CITY OF ROCKFORD LIMITS):
EARLY VOTING (ALSO KNOWN AS IN-PERSON ABSENTEE) BEGINS THURS FEB 23RD AND ENDS ON APR 3RD AT 7PM.

The race for Rockford Township Assessor is flying under the media radar. Your voice is heard when you vote. 

THE CLERK'S OFFICE IS ONLY USING THE TOUCH SCREEN VOTING MACHINES DURING EARLY VOTING.

Winnebago County Clerk's Office
404 Elm Street, Room 101
Rockford, Illinois 61101

FEBRUARY 22, 2017 | Facebook

Did you know… There are over a dozen property tax exemptions offered to real estate homeowners?

Are YOU receiving all the exemptions you qualify for?

1. Owner Occupied (Save $900 in Rockford)
2. Rental Owner Occupied (Save $900 in Rockford)
3. 50% Special Owner Occupied (Save $900 in Rockford)
4. Senior Citizen (Save $760 in Rockford)
5. Senior Citizen Freeze
6. Home Improvement
7. Disabled Person (Save $300 in Rockford)
8. Disabled Veteran (Save $380-$900 or 100% in Rockford)
9. Disabled Veteran's for Specially Adapted Housing (Save up to 100%)
10. Returning Veteran (Save $760 in Rockford)
11. Veteran Mobile Home (Save 100% in Rockford)
12. Natural Disaster (Prorated Assessment)
13. Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Deferral Program (Defer payments with interest)
14. City of Rockford 2016 Homebuyer’s Tax Refund Program (Rebate of approx. 70% of bill)

More Information

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

Did you know...
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, I have already been working for you?

Since I worked in the Office of the Assessor for more than 10 years as the Office Manager, there are several accomplishments I made on your behalf to create an office with a higher standard of practice. I would like to do even more... but I can't without your support. Vote Horstman April 4th! 

1. Liaison between WinGIS Director Burnie Turner and Rockton, Roscoe, Harlem, and Cherry Valley Township Assessors. Analyzed all 4 township database records for identical fields so that property record card information for real estate could be found WinGIS.

2. Liaison between Illinois Association of REALTORS® Julie Sullivan, Director of Legislative and Political Affairs and Rockford Township Assessor Ken Crowley for the Illinois 96th General Assembly SB3334. Wrote all of Crowley’s speeches, authored all his presentations, and wrote all correspondences relating to the bill in order to get it passed. Conducted all research and provided statistical information for real life examples as to why the bill is crucial for taxpayers. Drafted the bills original language. It PASSED! Unfortunately, the Assessor never implemented the new statute into the assessment sale ratio studies and ignored it.

3. Created all presentations and handouts for Rockford Township Assessor Ken Crowley to give to members of the community and private organizations regarding specific topics in order to promote education and understanding of the assessment cycle.

4. Liaison between the MLS Committee Chair Karl Gasbarra and Director of WinGIS Burnie Turner when the Rockford Area REALTORS® MLS migrated to the Paragon system and the REALTORS® needed a new format for information on WinGIS.

5. Provided the first online Winnebago County Board of Review Assessment Appeal Complaint Form so no one had to pick it up in person.

6. Discontinued charging owners a fee of $0.25 per page for copies of records maintained by the Rockford Township Assessor’s Office. All copies are now provided free of charge.

7. Stopped requiring owners to mail in a self-addressed paid returned envelope in order to receive an assessment complaint form. Complaint forms are now mailed upon request, free of charge.

8. Ended the requirement of a “formal” written request for information and rewrote the Rockford Township Assessor’s definition of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to mean anything “asked for either verbally or in writing, via phone, fax, email, or in person.”

9. Saved taxpayers money for legal council by conducting all research in house and submitted it to the Township Attorney so that he would not bill the taxpayers excessive hours of service.
10. Implemented a policy that if owners wanted to submit an assessment appeal at the Officer of the Assessor, we would accept it as well as provided the required duplicate copies of the appeal free of charge.

11. Carried out the use of a digital document management system in the Rockford Township Assessor’s office for Deeds and Declarations (green sheets/PTAX203) so that documents could be digitally stored and provided via email immediately upon request.

12. Negotiated all third party contracts with service providers and equipment purchasing.

13. Created an easy to read and detailed summary of cell tower and bill board taxable area for owners to submit to cell tower and bill board companies for reimbursement of property taxes.

14. Developed an email newsletter to keep owners informed of assessment information, news, and deadlines.

15. Only person who has been involved with every website project for the Rockford Township Assessor’s Office; worked with Rockford Area REALTORS® CEO Terrie Hall in 2000 on the first website, and was the project manager for the next two upgrades in 2008 and 2011.

16. During each Rockford Township website launch, liaison between the general public and the Rockford Township Assessor Ken Crowley to provide information in a format that taxpayers wanted.

17. Provided the first publicly available sale comparables for the Rockford Township Assessor’s Office, both paper copies and also digital, available online.

18. Made possible the ability to email taxpayers sale comparables.

19. Produced a one-stop-shop on the Rockford Township Assessor’s website for property record cards, tax bills, tax exemption information, real estate values, neighborhood sales, flood zone information, JULIE data, zoning data, lot sizes, aerial photography, and school district information.

20. Posted commercial and industrial building information online, prior to that, only residential was available.

21. Posted property tax exemption information online, which is the only site in the district to list ALL exemptions available.

22. Key proponent for the Board of Review, WinGIS, and Supervisor of Assessments to partner with WinGIS to create a sale comparable tool for taxpayers that showed an aerial view of real estate transaction, both valid and invalid.

23. Updated the internal Winnebago County Board of Review coversheet for Appeals so that the Board of Review could view a snapshot summary of both the Appellant’s and Assessor’s evidence in order to simplify the paperwork.

24. Compared and contrasted all Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) software applications on the market and their developers to choose the best application to migrate to since the existing CAMA system is now functionally obsolete and cannot be support on an operating other than Windows XP.

25. Saved taxpayer dollars by being an in-house IT Desktop Solutions Manager, Website Administrator, and Database Manager so that those services were not outsourced, saving a substantial amount of overhead.

26. First candidate in Rockford Township Assessor history who wants to use computer-assisted mass appraisal techniques for commercial and industrial buildings as well as 7+ unit apartment buildings.

27. Made available to attorneys (representing real estate owners on appeals), appraisers, and owners digital records of Rockford Township parcel information instead of paper copies.

28. First person to make available, both free of charge and emailed, the Rockford Township database of parcels to any person who asked.

29. Began emailing appraisers digital records of Rockford Township parcel information instead of requiring them to receive paper copies for a fee.

30. In 2006 and 2008, when Rockford was hit with massive flooding; Project Manager who organized, mailed, and processed applications of flood victims in order for them to reduce their assessment due to water damage. Researched and created the formula for reduction of value based on Florida Assessor’s guidelines for real estate sustaining structural damage during hurricanes.

31. Maintained and updated all tax rate calculation worksheets for both of the Rockford Township taxing districts, 011 and 018 on behalf of the Rockford Township Assessor.

32. First person create a means by which the Winnebago County Supervisor of Assessments could upload information via the cloud, instead of burning a CD for physical pick-up.

33. Initiated offsite automated and duplicate back-up of all office records and discontinued the need to for manually back that required a tape to be physically backed-up to and manually kept offsite for preservation.

34. Wrote all content and information on the website for the Office of the Assessor.

35. Personal assistant to the elected Assessor and authored 90% of his email and mailed correspondences from 2006 to 2015.

36. First person in the history of the Office to obey the Illinois Local Records Act, which states a public office is not to destroy ANY documents without written consent from the State to do so.

37. Only person in the Office to stand up to the Assessor and do my best to thwart personal agenda that protects taxing body revenue, instead of your pocket book.

38. Last but least, I know all the secrets – it is why I am running for Rockford Township Assessor. There should be NO secrets.

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

THE OFFICE OF THE ROCKFORD ASSESSOR

THE GOOD
The way Township statute is written, it allows the Assessor to manage and operate as a sole proprietor or as the CEO/president of a corporation. The Assessor answers to NO ONE. The Assessor has full power and control. The Assessor can value real estate by any chosen means. This is a good thing when the person in charge is superb at what he/she does. It means there is no red tape or bureaucracy to get in the way of sound judgment, proper management, and fair and equal treatment. Positive changes can be carried out immediately.

Township government does have a Board of Trustees, who can ONLY deny expenditures, however, at least since 2006, the Township Board has never exercised its right to do so. Furthermore, the Board cannot dictate to the Assessor how his responsibilities are supposed to be handled. Therefore, the Assessor is as far as decision making goes. An excellent thing when the power is in the right hands.

THE BAD
When an elected official takes office, who ONLY has the legal qualifications to hold office, without a prior resume and ONLY book knowledge, it results in what the Assessor's Office is today. An unethical, unlawful, chaotic black hole of over spending, under performing, mismanagement, and in dire need of a comprehensive overhaul.

THE UGLY
Elected officials do not need to have experience establishing a budget, forecasting revenue and losses, manage staff, problem solve, implement simple solutions to complex problems, investigate inefficiencies and make changes, understand how to read and respond to emails, determine best how to allocate employee skills and resources, motivate and maintain synergy, resolve conflict, create a plan to meet goals, or have confident commanding and control of the functions of the office to which they are elected. Furthermore, they do not need to understand the fundamental laws and statutes that govern the specific tasks of their position. The result, a weak leader with a lot of wishbone and no backbone.

The ugliest part of the Rockford Township Office of the Assessor is that its current leader can be BULLIED. Which is terrific for those who are not afraid to toss their weight around and get what they want (right or wrong), because the Assessor will roll over. Bad because it means unequal treatment to those who respect the system and the leaders. The Assessor cannot stand up to bullies.

EXAMPLE #1: Picture it, summer 2016. The appeal season is about to open. Election is within 8 months. Three men meet after hours on a weeknight with the Assessor and back the Assessor into a corner over the wrong valuation of a certain “style” of home in their “neighborhood”. Long story short, the Assessor places a rush order on several “Assessment Change Requests” to lower all values within said style and neighborhood. The bullies won. Kudos to the men for standing up for their wrong assessment. Shame on the Assessor for not doing right by them in the first place. You see, the Assessor and his Deputies have known for years about the problem the men were addressing. The Assessor didn’t correct it until faced with fierce opposition by men who are known in the community and also connected. Identified wrongs should be dealt with immediately and not ignored until “it’s a problem”. Period. No taxpayer should have to be bully to have the job done right. Period.

EXAMPLE #2: Picture it. Late winter/Early spring 2014. Assessed values and appeals are affecting budgets. The County Chairman is trying to fulfill a budget. The immediate past Board of Review Chairman retires. Christiansen ceases the opportunity to influence assessments at the Township, County, and State level. Crowley jumps when told to and starts a crusade to defeat owners at the appeal level with the aid of the new Supervisor of Assessments appointed by Christiansen and also the Clerk of the Board of Review. The Board of Review dramatically stops granting as many reductions, going from nearly a 90% success rate under the previous Board of Review administration, to a 65% success rate, as of 2015, under the new Board of Review administration. Collusion and corruption have no place in the Office of the Assessor. It needs to STOP. Period.

EXAMPLE #3: Commercial valuation for taxation has no fair and uniform rhyme or reason and values are not based on the brick and mortar of the building. That is why commercial owners appeal so often and for such large reductions. The system is WRONG to begin with and the Assessor chooses not to fix it. Instead, the Assessor promotes something called the Assessment Defense Fund which is a pool of taxpayer dollars that can be used to prove the Assessor’s value is correct for no other reason than stop reductions in the tax base at the County and State level. Guys this is WRONG. Not only unfair to local employers, but because it started with “large reductions” on commercial and ended up being a broad statement of ANY large reduction (commercial, industrial, or residential) that could have a “domino effect”. Only you can stop it by voting for a person devoted to doing just that.

EXAMPLE #4: Summer 2016. The Assessor finishes a presentation about safe guarding large reductions on values. A keen mind was in the room and he didn;t like what he heard. The Assessor receives a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request direct. Joe Public asks the Assessor for all his emails regarding the "Assessment Defense Fund" and also asks the Assessor to forward the request to his FOIA Manager. The same day, the Assessor deletes all the emails Joe Public asks for and does not forward the request to his FOIA Manager. Instead, the Assessor sits on the request and speaks to the County Supervisor of Assessments about whether or not he is required to legally comply. The answer is yes. Unbeknown to the Assessor, no email on an exchange server is ever fully deleted. The result: Joe Public received his requested emails to the dismay of the Assessor.

No elected official should be conducting any business that is self serving. If the Assessor is proud of what he has done during his 11 year tenure, why hide anything? Why not present the truth for all to see? Vote for changing the status quo. Vote Horstman 4/4!

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

Attention Media: Make it known in black and white that the former County Chairman put pressure on the new County Board of Review and the existing Rockford Assessor to thwart the decrease of assessed values in order to protect the budget.

FOIA the emails (saved, soft deleted, and hard deleted, and their attachments), for the former County Board Chairman, his assistant, the County Board of Review Members (BOR), the County Supervisor of Assessments (also the the Clerk of the County BOR), and the Rockford Township Assessor - going back to Jan 2014 through present day.

The County Board of Review only lowers 65%+/- of assessment appeals compared to 85% in 2013. The former Board of Review Chairman retired Feb 2014 and was NOT protecting the taxing body. He protected the taxpayer first and foremost. The new administration is tainted by the old Chairman’s antics. When the new Board of Review Chairman was appointed in 2014, the County Chairman swooped in and that is when controlling assessments in order to control the budget started. The Board of Review has no idea what hit them.

The Winnebago County elected Board Members and district Representatives were 100% bypassed and were not even involved with the process. That's called taxation without representation.

The key words for the FOIA request are "Assessment Defense", "EAV Team 3", and "EAV Team 4". The collusion to control assessments reaches beyond Township and County government. It also involves specific community organizations that have been fed half truths, and they believe their involvement is for the good of the taxpayer when it's actually all smoke and mirrors for the good of the taxing body.

The taxing districts involved with the tax rebate program in Rockford are also involved with the Assessment Defense Fund project... I don't believe it's coincidence that in order to participant in the tax rebate program, the taxpayer is REQUIRED to waive their right to appeal their assessment, even if it raises the tax bill. No one should be required to waive their right to appeal their assessment in order to receive cash.

The two key players promoting the former County Chairman’s agenda are the Supervisor of Assessments, who is also the Clerk of the Board of Review, and the Rockford Township Assessor. They are involved with every action and also going into the community and giving presentations to encourage the support of maintaining high commercial assessments and preventing the decreasing of "large reductions" at the County and State level for residential OR commercial taxpayers.

Connect the Dots: Very few people understand how deep the collusion and corruption truly is.

When I learned of the collusion, it is exactly the reason I decided to run and stop it. I will not allow politics in the Rockford Township Assessor's office. Period. Vote for Horstman 4/4!

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 | Facebook

I don't have the independently wealthy padding the campaign account like my opponent. I have individual supporters from all classes and demographics, like YOU! That speaks volumes and I am grateful for the opportunity to go to bat for YOU. Don't be shy about asking for a yard sign, sharing posts on Facebook, or telling your friends and family that a new face and a new leader is on the horizon. Donate money, spread the Horstman word, and stand up to make wrong things right again. You got this!