Cook County property tax bill puts Palatine Kinsch florist and garden center out of business, family say
“We were meant to be here, I thought forever,” said Kevin Kinsch, former owner of Kinsch Florist and Garden Center.
The rubble is what remains of the suburban greenhouse and flower farm after more than 80 years of activity.
“We had four greenhouses; they were 36 out of 100. We were growing carnations and mums,” Kinsch said.
The company was opened in the Palatine in 1938 by brothers Ed and Leo Kinsch. The current generation of owners, including Kevin Kinsch, can now only look around in disbelief.
“It’s very sad. It’s still what was meant to be in my family what your family is and we loved doing it. You know, I love people, my dad loved doing it with my family. ‘was a family tradition, “he said. noted. “We were the flower makers.”
They grew these flowers until recently. Their 2019 Cook County property tax bill skyrocketed to $ 183,000, from just under $ 25,000; an increase of 640%. In 2020, they received another bill for $ 151,000.
After those big bills, the family decided they had to stop and close, hoping that if this land could be considered vacant it would eventually reduce the tax bills. Now five acres of land are empty and overgrown with weeds.
If they are classified as vacant, future tax bills could go down. But what is happening with these current invoices? The increase was due to the fact that the Cook County assessor changed all land from “farm” to “commercial”. Previously, only their small retail store was designated as “commercial”.
“For over 50 years the florist has always been a business and greenhouses have always been agricultural. You know, what has changed?” Kinsch wondered. “And no, no, this is all commercial. What has changed? Why has it changed? And no one would tell us.”
This Kinsch reassessment in 2019 was the first year of evaluation by Cook County assessor Fritz Kaegi. And the Kinsch family was not alone; According to the Cook County Board of Review, all trade values rose 98% after the 2019 valuation in the Northern Townships. Many companies appealed to the board and won. On average, these assessments then went from a 98% increase to a 35% increase.
“They put their blood and sweat and tears here. And literally in 365 days the county re-evaluated everything and made us bankrupt, it just wasn’t possible to be here anymore,” said Michael. Kinsch, family member.
The assessor’s office did not respond to why the land designation had been changed, saying only that “land assessed as agricultural land pays two and a half times less in property taxes than commercial properties.”
The Kinsch family appeal to the Cook County Board of Review and the state, but even if they end up winning they say they have already lost because they would still have to pay the money owed during a slow appeal process.
“It was far too late for business, there is just no way to support it. We have scuffed and struggled to keep paying the property taxes owed right now,” Kinsch said.
The appraiser’s office added, “In 2019, the appeal filed for this commercial property did not provide enough documentation to support its appraisal as farmland. Therefore, she was assessed at a higher rate.
Family members say they believe they provided the correct documents and will continue to appeal.
“We find this very unfair,” said Kevin Kinsch.
The small Kinsch flower shop that was here however survived and moved to a shopping street down the street.
“We were the flower people,” said Kevin Kinsch. “I love it. And it’s sad now that it’s not here anymore. It’s not here anymore. But time goes by and things change.”
The I-Team also found two other garden centers on the northwest side with almost the same area as the Kinsch Flower Farm that were not classified as “commercial” and have much lower taxes.
When asked why they are different, the appraiser’s office said these properties were appraised based on the documentation provided.
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