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Independence sues Jackson County over 'inconsistent and unfair' property assessments

SantaCaliGon Days Festival in downtown Independence, Missouri, on September 3, 2022.
Gabe Rosenberg
KCUR 89.3
SantaCaliGon Days Festival in downtown Independence, Missouri, on September 3, 2022. The Independence City Council announced Friday that it will sue Jackson County over its property tax assessements.

Independence is the second Jackson County city, after Lee's Summit, to file a lawsuit over the property assessment process. Tens of thousands of property owners have already appealed their assessments, some of which increased by more than 90%.

Independence is the second city in the Kansas City metro to sue Jackson County over its property tax assessments.

Independence City Council decided in an executive session Thursday to move forward with its own lawsuit, after directing its city manager and legal counsel in July to explore whether the city should join an existing class-action lawsuit.

“In the wake of continuous failures by Jackson County officials to correct their inconsistent and unfair processes related to the assessment of real property taxes, the Independence City Council has authorized City staff to retain legal counsel to initiate a lawsuit against Jackson County,” the council wrote in a joint statement Friday.

“It is the City’s hope,” the statement continued, “that this unfortunate, but necessary action, will finally force Jackson County to do what is right for the City of Independence and its residents.”

KCUR has reached out to Jackson County for comment, and will update this story with their response. The city of Independence said it would not comment further at this time.

Lee’s Summit went public with its own lawsuit against the county for tax assessments on Monday, accusing Jackson County and public officials of failing their “clear and unconditional duty.”

The Jackson County Assessment Department anticipated property tax assessments would increase by an average of 30% this year, but some homeowners saw their values increase by 90% or more.

It’s led to uproar across the county. More than 50,000 homeowners filed appeals.

Speaking on KCUR’s Up To Date earlier this week, Jackson County legislator Sean Smith said that county lawmakers invited the Missouri state auditor to inspect how the county performed its assessments.

The increases also prompted Jackson County to consider property tax relief for seniors. A bill introduced in the county legislature last week would provide a tax credit for those receiving Social Security whose homes have an assessed value less than $550,000. If it passes, seniors will not get the tax credit until next year.

A similar bill that had no maximum assessed value for relief failed in Monday’s county legislature vote.

Madeline Fox is a news editor for KCUR.
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