The Observer
News from the League of Women Voters
of Cook County

Summer 2021

Virtual Luncheon

Cook County Treasurer Delivers
Food for Thought to Leaguers

Leave it to Maria Pappas to turn what could be a dry subject into an immensely informative and fascinating presentation. The six-term Cook County Treasurer, who previously served as a Cook County Commissioner, delivered the keynote address at the Cook County League’s virtual Food for Thought luncheon on July 15.

Flanked by members of her staff, Treasurer Pappas spoke to over 60 Leaguers on a wide range of topics, including how she has modernized the office, making it more efficient and effective.

Work that used to be done manually is now implemented by programmers on a networked system of computers. The number of employees has been reduced from 250 to 58. Taxpayers rarely if ever need to call or visit the Treasurer’s office because all the information they need about their property taxes is posted on an easy-to-navigate website, visited by some 2 million people each month.

Here are highlights of her lively, 60-minute talk.

  • Homeowners who want information about their property taxes can get 20 years of history by entering their street address in a box on the Treasurer’s Office home page called “Your Property Tax Overview.” The site informs taxpayers if they’ve made an overpayment and how to access it. The Treasurer’s office is currently sitting on $78 million in unclaimed overpayments.

  • Under Pappas’ leadership, the office has conducted multiple studies, revealing information that benefits all Cook County residents. She is especially concerned about areas with high Black and Brown populations that are marred by violent crime and a high population exit rate. “There are certain areas of the city where you literally can’t give the property away,” she said.

  • In 2019, Treasurer Pappas sponsored -- and the Cook County Board approved -- the Debt Disclosure Ordinance allowing taxpayers to see the operational and pension debts of each governmental entity on the 1st installment of their property tax bills. Why is this important? “The higher the debt, the higher the property taxes,” she said.

Cook County Treasurer’s Office Fast Facts

  • Treasurer Pappas launched a “Black and Latino Houses Matter” program earlier this year to help homeowners take advantage of tax refunds and exemptions. A phone bank co-hosted by WLS-TV resulted in $12.5 million being returned to taxpayers.

Check out the Treasurer’s website,,
where, among other things, you can…

  • Find out if you are owed a property tax refund;
  • Request your bill to be sent via email or download a copy;
  • See the studies which the office has done, including:

  1. Voter Turnout 2011 – 2020
  2. 20-Year Property Tax History by local and county taxing bodies
  3. Debt Study – View taxing district debt attributed to your property.

For a video of the entire presentation, visit the Cook County League’s website at

Upcoming Event

Wednesday, August 11, 7 pm., via Zoom
Children Seeking Asylum:
Conversations with the Leaders of Viator House and Bethany House
League of Women Voters of the Palatine area and the League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights-Mt. Prospect-Buffalo Grove will present a virtual webinar featuring the leadership of two nonprofit organizations which help area immigrant children who are seeking asylum get housing and other key services. There is no charge to attend.

For more info, email Gayle at or Cammy at Registration: Click below or copy and paste into your browser.
2021-2022 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange Area; Vice-Presidents: Pris Mims, Chicago, and Karin Hribar, Arlington Heights; Secretary: Betty Hayford, Evanston; Treasurer: Nancy Clark, Oak Park/River Forest.

Board members: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Laura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Park Ridge; Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area, Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Georgia Gebhardt, Wilmette; Peggy Kell, Oak Park/River Forest.

Editor: Chris Ruys
League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, political organization whose mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government; to increase understanding of major policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to anyone regardless of gender, race, or ethnic group.

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