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Proposed Jackson County Property Tax Cut Dead On Arrival At Legislature

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Executive Frank White's proposal to cut property taxes by $3 million next year landed with a thud Monday in the county legislature.

It was criticized, ridiculed and eventually shot down by legislators.

They suggested the modest cut in the county's property tax levy was White's way of deflecting attention from the county's ongoing reassessment mess.

“It’s a hocus pocus, bulls--t thing that is done by the executive’s office that has nothing to do with the reassessment problem that they have,” Legislator Dan Tarwater told a gaggle of reporters during a break in the meeting.

“My God, have you been blind for the last few months? This is not how this government should work,” Legislator Jalen Anderson said.

The valuations of thousands of real estate parcels in the county skyrocketed in this year's reassessment. Some 14,000 homeowners have appealed to the Board of Equalization.

In a rare Sunday evening news release, White said his plan would reduce the property taxes on a $100,000 home by $21. Only 8% of the proceeds from a Jackson County property tax bill actually goes to the county. The biggest amounts go to school districts and cities.

During Monday's meeting, Ed Stoll, the county's chief administration officer, defended the administration's tax reduction plan. When asked when the plan was formed, he was noncommittal.

“It was expressed by several people that there should be tax relief,” Stoll said.

Stoll took the heat because White was at a conference in Nashville with officials from the city, county officials said. 

That did not sit well with Legislative Chair Theresa Galvin.

“County business is more important than what he’s doing in Nashville,” she said.

The reassessment mess continued on Monday. The county put on hold an $8.8 million contract with a consultant to help it through the process of building a new jail.

Legislator Crystal Williams said the reassessment had created "trust issues" with taxpayers. And Galvin said there were "too many fires" for the Legislature to put out and it couldn't focus now on a new jail.

Sam Zeffis 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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