Class Action lawsuit: burden wrongly placed on Jackson County homeowners

FILE — A lawsuit argues the burden should be on Jackson County, but property owners are now...
FILE — A lawsuit argues the burden should be on Jackson County, but property owners are now illegally bearing the brunt of fixing county mistakes.(KCTV5)
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 4:18 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A class action lawsuit has been amended and expanded. It now challenges the process Jackson County homeowners are forced to navigate as they challenge their property assessments.

A record 54,539 appeals have been filed.

The lawsuit argues the burden should be on the county but property owners are now illegally bearing the brunt of fixing county mistakes.

It likens the process to a prosecutor wrongly charging people with crimes and then citizens having to prove their innocence instead of the prosecutor providing proof a crime ever took place.

Physical inspections

The filing asks the judge to consider state statutes regarding physical inspections. It claims the county and Tyler Technology employees are performing drive-by looks and not true inspections.

It brings forward two new plaintiffs. One is a 92-year-old homeowner in Lone Jack who saw the value of her home increase from $294,000 to $772,000. Her estimated tax bill jumped from $4,245.94 to $10,352.72.

It points out she is now forced to spend time and money to challenge an increase much larger than 15% despite the lack of a true inspection.

ALSO READ: Jackson County property tax appeals top 54k, assessor defends assessment

The other plaintiff was trying to sell her Independence home. It claims the sale fell apart when the county increased the home’s value and the buyer declared, “I have absolutely no trust in Jackson County.”

The lawsuit asks for class action treatment for homeowners in a similar situation referring to them as “The 15% class.”

Delayed Timelines

The lawsuit outlines the timelines missed by Tyler Technologies even though the Texas-based company was paid close to $18 million to help run the assessment.

It points to public records of the county shifting timelines.

ALSO READ: KCTV5 Investigates: How does Jackson County tax the rich?

The original complaint argues some homeowners received assessment notices late, a violation of state statute. It’s asking the judge to void those increases.

Commercial property

The lawsuit argues commercial properties largely received blanket increases because the county and Tyler Technologies simply ran out of time. The filing argues this violates state law as well.

The motion quotes Jackson County Assessor Gail McCann Beatty’s previous statements.

“A flat rate does not create equity at all, it creates inequity,” Gail McCann Beatty reportedly said to a reporter.

Many of the allegations in the lawsuit mirror similar complaints the State Auditor is now investigating.

ALSO READ: Missouri State Auditor investigating complaints over Jackson County assessment process

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