Tazewell County as a whole did not suffer the same fate as other counties around the state when the housing market crashed in 2007 — the market remained stable and the county’s Equalized Assessed Valuation continued to rise.

Tazewell County Supervisor of Assessments Gary Twist said the EAV of Tazewell County has gone up in every year since the housing crash of 2007, though some areas of the county fared better than others. He said there is a lot that goes into EAV besides housing — farmland, commercial, industrial and miscellaneous.

Twist said residential housing made up the bulk of the county’s EAV at 73.13 percent in 2017. Farmland values stand at 6.92 percent of the county’s EAV; commercial, 16.94 percent; industrial, 2.82 percent; and miscellaneous, 0.19 percent. The miscellaneous applies to wind farms. The county’s EAV in 2017 was $3.099 billion. (See graphics)

“For us, we haven’t gone through any dips,” said Twist. “Tazewell County has gone up every year over the course of the last 11 years — the county as a whole.

“Within that there could be one area that’s stronger than another. For example, Pekin probably hasn’t increased in assessed values as quickly as what Morton or Washington has because there has just been a little bit more growth there. But overall, Pekin’s been very steady. ... If there is anything to brag about, we’ve just been stable. Some of the counties went through assessed value lowerings, and we never had a year where our total county assessment lowered.”


Diverse makes stable

Twist said Tazewell County’s EAV remained stable because of a diversity.

“It’s a mix of all the markets,” said Twist. “This is a very stable area, and there’s confidence in people owning a property and residences in Tazewell County.

“It’s close to a lot of jobs, so that puts us more in demand also.”

Twist said when he moved to Tazewell County he expected that the industrial category would rule everything because this area is home to Caterpillar’s Headquarters.

“Well, I stand corrected,” said Twist. “Residential is what rules almost everything here in Tazewell County by the percentages of what our assessed values are made up of. And it’s been virtually unchanged for the last 11 years. The residential portion hovers near 75 percent (from 2007 to 2017).”

While the housing market may be stable, one new home contractor, Marvin Spiczka, of Spiczka Construction, said he sees some shift in the local market.

“What I am seeing is, from what I’ve been told, a lot of the people who have been renting homes or renting apartments are going out and buying up the inexpensive houses,” said Spiczka Construction Owner Marvin Spiczka. “They’re saving money by slowly remodeling those houses and keeping their money in their pockets — that’s what I’m looking at.

“If in fact people are looking at new construction, what I’m being told is what sells is between $190,000 and to $210,000, $215,000.”

Spiczka developed 56 lots in Deerfield Estates off of South Fifth Street in Pekin, and he built at least 45 of those homes. He owns phase 5 and 6 of Deerfield Estates. He said it doesn’t make sense to do cosmetic work to an older home, because it does not increase the value of the home.

“If you have a chance of buying a new construction house for $200,000 without doing any remodeling, you’re thousands of dollars ahead,” he said. “And besides that, it’s probably going to be more energy efficient — windows, insulation, the structure — everything is up to code.”


Farmland values

Twist said that many other counties in the region have seen EAV increases in farmland, much related to the Illinois’ Farmland Assessment Law.

The law has not been a “significant factor” in Tazewell County EAV, said Twist. Farmland hovers in the 5 percent to 6 percent area of the total EAV.

“This is an effort to get the highest soils to a ratio of 2 to 1 compared to the lowest soils, because the highest soil will produce about twice as much net profit as the lowest soils,” said Twist. “We had a mathematical huge difference that was like (a) 37 to 1 (ratio). So this slight change in the law will bring those two values together.

“It will take about 15 years to get it to that 2-1 ratio. So it’s a very slow process, but, yes, that change has occurred here, but it really doesn’t change things except the most valuable soil aren’t going up as fast as they used to and the lower soils are going up a little faster than what they used to. We’re treated exactly the same as every county in the state. So, one acre of Drummer soil, that’s just the name of one type of a real good soil, one acre of Drummer soil in Tazewell County is assessed exactly the same as it is in Knox County or any other county. The only thing that would change would be what the local tax rate is.”


Commercial and industrial

Commercial also was virtually unchanged from 16.5 percent in 2007 to 16.9 percent in 2017, a very small change, said Twist.

But Tazewell County’s Industrial EAV, compared to other counties in West Central Illinois, is a small percentage of the EAV pie.

“Though it’s significant compared to other counties, it still hovers around 3 percent,” said Twist.

Twist said new to the EAV pie are windmills. The wind farms are listed as miscellaneous on the EAV spectrum. Wind farms were not on the EAV list for the County in 2007. They now represent a meager 0.19 percent of the county’s EAV.

In the grand scheme of things, said Twist, the county is doing well in Equalized Assessed Valuation.

“We’re not at the growth levels that we were in the very early 2000s,” said Twist. “From 2000 to 2005, our rate of growth was faster, but we are in one of the most stable positions the county’s ever gone through.

“Commercial has had the most pressure because of changing culture and consumer preferences,” said Twist. “Say office space — it doesn’t take nearly as much space with computers as what we used to require. It takes less people in offices, and so commercial office space has been readily available and has not increased substantially in value because of less of a demand.

“Another example — big box stores. That’s another classification of commercial. And we know what’s happened with Bergner’s and there’s pressure on retailers with large buildings verses delivery options available. You can order something from Amazon rather than drive out to the Walmart or Bergner’s. If people can have that blouse or pair of pants delivered to the house instead of going out there to try it on they may do that.”