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Jackson County Says It Will Redo Property Tax Assessments For An Entire Neighborhood

west_side.jpg
Sam Zeff
Jackson County will redo assessments for the entire West Side Neighborhood in Kansas City. Officials say newly built, expensive homes mixed with older stock may have skewed property assessments.

Jackson County says the reassessment of 15,000 pieces of property are now being disputed."We're now looking at the entire Westside," said Gail McCann Beatty, the county's director of assessment. 

On Tuesday, the county clarified its plans for the neighborhood.

“It is important that everyone know that no area of the county is getting a ‘redo,’” Jackson County spokesperson Marshanna Hester said in a statement. She noted the county was reviewing some residential properties with adjoining vacant lots, which are mainly situated in the city’s urban core, including the Westside.

Westside residents packed the small county Legislative meeting area in the Independence courthouse to demand legislators do something to ease the hike in property tax assessments.

“If there’s some mistake here, that’s why they put erasers on pencils. Use them and correct the problem," said Paul Rojas, who said the assessment on his West Side home quadrupled Longtime residents are worried they will be pushed out of their neighborhood. "Our kids won't be able to buy in the Westside," Marie Hernandez told the Legislature. "All I ask is that you be fair to us."

Some property owners have panicked since reassessment notices started landing two weeks ago. The county says on average home property assessment has jumped 18% on average. But some property assessments have doubled and tripled.  

“What can you do so we can sleep at night? And don’t have to worry about our community disappearing," West Side resident Charles Lona pleaded to the Legislature.

But several legislators made it clear that while they sympathize with homeowners there is not much they can do. Property reassessment is mandated by the state and the Assessment Department answers to County Executive Frank White, not the Legislature.

Still, legislators are worried.

"How do we do this so homeowners don't lose sleep or worry about losing their homes," Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams said. 

Legislator Dan Tarwater is concerned about businesses, many of which have seen even steeper assessment increases.

"We're going to have businesses that are going to leave," he said. "And affordable housing will become less affordable."

County officials say nobody will really know what their tax bill will be until cities, school districts and other taxing districts finalize their budgets in September.

The deadline to appeal to the assessor's office online passed Monday. Property owners can now appeal to the local Board of Equalization by July 8, and the Missouri State Tax Commission.

Editor's note: This story was updated with a clarification from Jackson County.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's metro reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff.