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Jackson County Legislators Say Controversial Property Reassessments Should Be 'Discarded'

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
Jackson County Legislature calls on County Executive Frank White to discard all 2019 reassessments. Some property values doubled for tripled.

Members of the Jackson County Legislature on Friday unanimously called on the county executive to discard all recently issued property reassessments.

It was the newest move in an ongoing controversy surrounding Jackson County's reassessment of the 300,000 parcels of land in the county.

"It's become clear there are numerous grave errors in the 2019 reassessment values," legislators wrote in a statement to County Executive Frank White on Friday afternoon. They said White should "provide a resolution to this situation" although no specifics actions were suggested.

The official statement didn't go as far as an earlier draft obtained by KCUR, which suggested that White freeze assessments "at last year’s value level." The earlier draft was also more harshly worded than the final version, saying "massive swings" in valuations "cause us to distrust the process."

Some 22,000 informal appeals have been filed with the county's assessment office since Jackson County property owners began receiving notice of their new property values. The average assessment jumped 18% this year, according to the county. But the value of some properties doubled or tripled.

The Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) said Thursday it is bracing for thousands of formal appeals. 

About a dozen people from Kansas City's Westside neighborhood showed up at Monday's legislative meeting to complain about their sky-high assessments. Many were older and on fixed incomes; others said if their property taxes shot up so much they would lose their homes.

“There’s something that has to be done. There’s something that you have to give us except, 'Sorry folks but that’s the way it is,'” pleaded Westside resident Charles Lona.

Residents got at least some support from the Legislature.

"Government exists first and foremost to help people and provide needed services," legislators said in their statement. "It's our responsibility to advocate for our constituents, the same constituents the county executive represents."

White responded with a tweet on the page he usually reserves for comments on baseball.

"Apparently Jackson County Legislators have put out a statement asking me to halt the assessment process. So they want ME to break state law because THEY lack the political will to do what’s right?"

In a part two to the tweet White said, "Simply put, I will not break the law for anyone."

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

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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