Tensions run high over property taxes, even between top county and city leaders

Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 4:42 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Property tax assessments have jumped in Jackson County, which has led to public outcry and now tension between the county executive and mayor.

Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. sent a pointed letter to Mayor Quinton Lucas. The letter was obtained by the Kansas City Star.

In it, White asks Lucas “to retract your previous statements and to publicly acknowledge the likelihood of your proposal to violate state law.”

Mayor Lucas has no plans to retract his comments echoing concerns about people losing their homes and looking at ways to ease people into large increases.

Lucas also declined to get into a public spat with County Executive White, saying his mother raised him better than that.

“Like I said, I don’t respond to letters like that,” Lucas said. “I don’t get in fights back and forth in the media. What I try to do is make sure we’re standing up for the people of this city and this county.”

County Executive White’s letter provided what he called a concrete example of an undervalued home: Lucas’ own home. The letter details what the mayor spent and reveals his previous assessment. There was a 63.78% increase.

“I’m blessed to be in a position where we’ll be able to pay the increase,” Lucas said. “You’ve got some people who can’t. I think it’s important for our whole community to see if there are ways we can we can help them.”

The letter also pointed out Lucas lives in a predominantly white neighborhood, arguing there is a connection between undervalued properties and who generally stands to benefit from lower tax assessments.

Tax turmoil

KCTV5 continues to hear from homeowners who question how they will pay after being nailed with high assessments. Many scratch their heads, wondering how the Assessment Department even came up with the values.

The director of the Assessment Department argues it is her job to get to true market value and that property taxes have greatly increased in recent years, which is why she said the average increase for homeowners is now 30%.

There is currently a class action lawsuit against the county. It asks a judge to consider some assessments invalid if they were mailed late. It points to state statutes that require notification by June 15.

A judge has yet to rule.