Government & Politics

Jackson County taxpayers will get more time to appeal their property assessments

Jackson County taxpayers will get an additional three weeks to file protests asking that the values on their homes and businesses be set at lower levels than they are now on the tax rolls.

Monday was the deadline for submitting appeals to the Board of Equalization. But at the suggestion of county legislators the board agreed to extend the deadline, for the second time this reassessment cycle, to July 29.

And some taxpayers will have even longer than that to get their paperwork in. The board also voted Monday to give even more time to anyone who has a pending informal appeal before the county assessment office. Many of those people are waiting to see what the assessment department decides before lodging a formal appeal with the equalization board.

Some may not get an answer by the new July 29 deadline. But rather than have those people file a duplicate appeal with the Board of Equalization now, the board voted to give anyone in that situation 21 days to appeal past the date of their informal appeal notice, no matter when that is.

It could mean that the board will be receiving appeals past when its members normally would be wrapping up appeals in other reassessment years.

However, 2019 is unlike past reassessments in that many more appeals are rolling in due to steep increases in the market values the assessment department has put on many homes and businesses. About a third of the county’s 300,000 real estate parcels saw increases above 15 percent, with some increasing four-fold.

Because tax levies will likely be rolled back in the fall, it’s too early to know how much people’s property taxes will go up as a result. Nonetheless, many are worried that the increases will tax them out of their homes.

More than 21,000 informal protests were filed in June. As of Saturday, the Board of Equalization had received 2,600 appeals and had more than 4,000 unread emails, which may have included documentation supporting an appeal, board specialist Melinda Taylor said.

The board’s three permanent members are appointed by the county executive, but are independent of county government.

City and school districts also appoint representatives to the board. One of them, Preston Smith, proposed Monday that the board throw out the assessment department’s numbers and cap value increases at 14 percent because he believes the assessment department’s numbers are flawed.

Smith, who represents the Blue Springs school district, said the board has that power to reset values “en masse,” but as his proposal was not on the agenda it was not discussed. Nor might it be in the future. Board chairman Christopher R. Smith did not promise he would put the proposal on the agenda when the the board meets again.

Also Monday, county officials once again offered to provide the board with more staff and money to handle the large number of appeals. Christopher Smith and the other two permanent members, Marilyn Shapiro and Forestine A. Beasley, said they welcomed the help and would submit a detailed request.

This episode of Deep Background was originally published on July 3, 2019.
Related stories from Kansas City Star

Mike Hendricks is a member of The Star’s investigations and watchdog reporting team. Send tips and story ideas in confidence by email to mhendricks@kcstar.com, Twitter direct message @kcmikehendricks, or anonymously via Signal encrypted message at 816-234-4738
  Comments