Jackson County Legislature asks state auditor to review tax assessments

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 6:04 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Jackson County Legislature took an unusual step Monday by overwhelmingly passing a resolution asking the State Auditor’s office to take a look at the entire county tax assessment.

There’s no doubt this has been a troubled process. A record 54,000 appeals have been filed. Homeowners have been contacting the KCTV5 newsroom for weeks with complaints about the assessments, and about how hard it is to get answers from the county.

Legislators say they’re hearing from homeowners, too, and are not getting clear information from the county assessment department.

“We have to throw this out,” Manny Abarca said. “This is one of the worst data sets that I think I have seen in a long time.”

READ MORE: Jackson County homeowners record assessment department

Most of the Legislators agree with him, voting eight-to-one to talk with the state auditor. He and other lawmakers are reacting to recent KCTV5 reports that reveal what appears to be an error discovered by a local data expert.

The error meant that more than 500 properties, throughout the county, were all assessed at the same value -- $356,270.

We knocked on doors and met many homeowners with this same assessment. They were appealing —and winning— by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We discovered that the homes had recently sold, and most sold for $100,000 to $150,000.

“Somebody did not check this,” Richard Meyers, homeowner, said.

READ MORE: Jackson County’s magic assessment number is $356,270

We even found a lot that recently sold for $25,000 assessed for that same $356,270. There’s not even a house on the lot.

When you do the math, you learn that the properties assessed at the value jumped an average of 168.3% from the last assessment. That’s at least five times the overall average increase.

Neither Jackson County Executive Frank White nor County Assessor Gail McCann Beatty were at Monday’s meeting, so Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte was left to answer questions.

Schulte downplayed the information surrounding that magic number of $356,270, calling it “an opinion.”

Later, he said third-party vendor Tyler Technologies should explain what happened.

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

“We’ll drag him in and try to get an answer,” said Schulte.

“So have you guys reviewed your own data that you’ve been given from Tyler about it?” asked KCTV5′s Angie Ricono.

“I have not been able to,” Schulte said. “I haven’t reviewed it. So, we’ll get the experts in and figure out what’s going on.”

State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick recently announced his office is looking into complaints from homeowners about the assessment.

After Monday’s action, the auditor will return with a cost estimate for the county for its investigation, but it’s likely, given the eight-to-one vote, a state audit will move forward.