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Black Leaders Want Jackson County To Give Homeowners More Time To Challenge Property Appraisals

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
Protestors outside of the Jackson County courthouse in downtown call on the Board of Equalization to again extend the deadline to appeal reassessments.

The Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) will decide Tuesday whether to yet again extend the deadline for property owners to appeal their reassessments.

As of Friday, some 9,500 appeals had been filed with the BOE and staff expected hundreds more before the deadline at close of business Monday.

At a protest on the downtown courthouse steps, the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) called on board members to expand the deadline.

“What we do not need in 2019 is more of a tax burden on poor people that will throw their lives further in chaos,” said Kansas City SCLC President Vernon Howard.

During the protest, Kansas City resident Joanna Clay sat outside of the BOE office trying to figure out the paperwork. She's lived in her house on Cleveland Avenue for 53 years. 

"I'm not going to let them take my house," Clay said.

The assessment on her house went up only $20, she says, but the assessment on a vacant lot she owns jumped from just $10 to $100. "It's the craziest thing I've ever seen," she said.

In addition to calling on the BOE to extend the appeals deadline, the SCLC also wants the county to reevaluate assessment process, a process Howard said is rife with systemic racism.

“We do not name any government official as a racist," Howard said. "What we name is the outcome of the execution of these policies as racist, as geographically oppressive and we say to government — stop the process.”

There is a plan to throw out the current reassessments and cap increases at no more than 14 percent. 

The BOE took no action on the plan almost two weeks ago and asked for more information on how it would affect county finances.

In a letter to the BOE dated July 22, Preston Smith, who represents Blue Springs Schools on the board, said his plan would still increase the market value in Jackson County by 9.5 percent when compared to the 2017 assessment. 

"That should be enough," he told KCUR.

The BOE has not set another hearing on the cap plan.

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

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