Editorials

Jackson County must provide better and fair property reassessments this year

Jackson County officials are used to defending their assessment process, as they did in 2009 at the downtown courthouse.
Jackson County officials are used to defending their assessment process, as they did in 2009 at the downtown courthouse. File photo

Top Jackson County officials badly bungled reassessment in 2013 but have pledged to provide more accurate values for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses this year.

The clock is now ticking on that promise: Notices began going out this week.

Two years ago, the process ended up angering many residents and embarrassing County Executive Mike Sanders. Property owners were unfairly socked with large increases in their homes’ values, which led to big wastes of time as some people got ready to appeal them. Then, the county essentially had a do-over to provide new values for many properties.

All in all, the county failed one of the most essential duties it’s supposed to perform.

This time around, Sanders and his aides say their decisions to hire consultants and revamp much of the reassessment process will benefit taxpayers. Good to hear because that help wasn’t free. The county also has spent money on modern equipment to help with the tasks involved in physically looking at many properties and in evaluating their values based on other factors.

Assessment isn’t a job for the risk averse, and some property owners seem determined to get upset any time they think their taxes could go up. Still, Jackson County has had a too-frequent history over the last three decades of not being up to the task of determining the right or even close-to-right numbers for properties. That has led to rounds of frustration by taxpayers who deserve better service from county officials.

Reassessment is crucial when it comes to fairly taxing residential and business property owners. School districts, cities, the county and other taxing jurisdictions count on the money that flows to them based on levies and assessed values.

As more residents get notices in the coming days, Sanders and other county officials will find out whether they did a far better job on reassessment in 2015.

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