KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A new legal opinion takes on the troubled Jackson County assessment and argues that the Board of Equalization has the power to make broad sweeping changes if they see systemic problems coming from homeowners. 

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If the Board of Equalization finds that the Assessor’s overall valuations (a) lack sufficient evidence to be considered reliable, and/or (b) are discriminatory because of the Assessor’s wide-spread use of 14.9% valuation increases, then the Board of Equalization is legally authorized, in fact compelled, to redress the Jackson County 2019 assessment with an intra-county order of relief.

Attorney Michael Duffy helped write the opinion.

“Over the last 100 years and more, we have seen the Missouri Supreme Court approve county boards of equalization issuance of intra-county equalization orders to correct exactly the kind of problems we are seeing in Jackson County,” Duffy said.

Duffy pointed to the widespread use of 14.9% as a compelling reason for the Board of Equalization to consider such an order.

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KCTV5’s investigation department revealed back on July 18 that 28% of the county had a 14.9% increase in their property value. We worked with data expert Preston Smith who crunched the numbers and geographically show who got that value.

This map disturbed many elected officials.

However, Assessment Director Gail McCann Beatty has defended her department.

She recently testified before a house committee hearing that what you see is just an accident.

“I will tell you everything got treated the same. I will tell you that everything is listed by a parcel number. We don’t know where it is when we’re doing our calculations. We do that intentionally ... we don’t put names on properties so that there is no bias there. That that circle happens to be a coincidence of the process. There was nothing targeted. Everyone was treated the same,” testified McCann Beatty.

However, lawyers do cite the use of 14.9% and other concerns as reasons to consider sweeping changes.

“I think that the evidence they have right now of wildly differing valuations and the evidence that a great number of valuations were set at 14.9% compel the board to consider some sort of systemic intra-county equalization order,” Duffy said.

It is unclear what the Board of Equalization will do next. They currently have four proposals before them that were introduced Oct. 17.

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