JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) – A new petition argues Jackson County’s recent property tax assessment is discriminatory and deeply flawed and asks a judge to step in and compel the Board of Equalization to offer countywide relief.

The new petition includes new data and describes the mess homeowners have faced throughout the process. It points out the Board of Equalization has failed to act on a countywide level when problems are widely known.

The filing directly names the three voting members of the BoE - Christopher Smith, Marilyn Shapiro and Forestine Beasley – and was brought on behalf of several homeowners including an 80-year-old widow, Evelyn Bravo.

Bravo’s home value jumped from $54,551 to $246,522 in a single year, a 352% increase, and she contends that it is likely a physical inspection of the property was never done. Jackson County’s own records reveal the picture the county has on file is from 2005.

Bravo fought her new assessment and won. Her taxes were lowered back down to $54,551.

The lawsuit points out all the other homeowners who haven’t appealed due to a broken system that had many confusing points for property owners:

  • It points out original notices that said “THIS IS NOT A BILL.”
  • Many homeowners could not afford an appraisal.
  • Notices were only sent in English- meaning those who are not native English speakers are at a disadvantage.
  • Many assessments were lost and never reached homeowners.
  • 8,600 emails sent in by homeowners were recently found and the county admits they were never read.

The petition asks the judge to consider that many homeowners are still waiting to appeal their assessments. The two other homeowners in the lawsuit saw massive increases and appealed, but they did not have their appeals heard in a timely fashion. They were still required to pay large increases in taxes despite the appeals process dragging on into 2020.

The petition also contains new data and information which claims Jackson County’s assessment grossly fails acceptable industry standards.

This is now the third legal challenges before the courts, including a case from the ACLU arguing discrimination.

Another legal filing points out the county failed to do inspections and rammed up property values beyond 15%, then hedged its bets across much of the county with a 14.9% cap.

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