JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- Homeowners and a member of the Board of Equalization are saying the state needs to investigate how property taxes were calculated in Jackson County.
It’s in response to new troubling information KCTV5’s investigative team uncovered with the help of a data expert.
The map above shows all of the people who paid 14.9% in their property taxes.
The investigative team looked for it, curious if assessors were hedging their bets knowing state law calls for a physical inspection at 15%.
For whatever reason, 14.9% was the increase for 74,311 homeowners. In fact, it’s the number Jackson County reached 28% of the time in what is supposed to be a full assessment where they carefully calculate property values.
The county refused to answer Investigative Reporter Angie Ricono’s questions about this and the assessor said on Thursday that she would not discuss it with Ricono. “I wish she would because this map is really troubling people,” Ricono said.
Where people got those 14.9% assessments was all over the county, but it almost completely misses the urban core. Many of those homeowners were nailed much, much more in taxes.
Where you see yellow on the map is where taxes increased by 50%. That means if you have a lower income, are black, or speak Spanish, then you are twice as likely to have been nailed in the assessment.
On Thursday, the information was presented to the people who could call the assessment into question and vote on a plan to change things. They tabled it and gave the data expert, Preston Smith, a sharp five minutes to present his information.
It drew a reaction from the crowd, who clearly wanted to hear more and felt this was important.
“Business as usual,” said Rachel Riley, whose taxes shot up 300%. “The cockiness of the president who says anything that happens needs to come by him because he’s the board. Well, we are the people. We are the taxpayer. We run this city, not boards.”
The Board of Equalization, who could jump in do something about property taxes, did not ask any follow-up questions about the data. They didn’t ask the assessor any questions about how and why 14.9% was the number they hit over and over 74,000 times.
In fact, the only thing they did on Thursday was table the proposal. The plan is in response to the numerous problems and concerns that are swirling around the assessments.
So, if you are a Jackson County homeowner, you certainly need to file a formal appeal if you disagree with your bill because the interest in an overall solution to address property taxes is minimal from the people who have the power to do that.
Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. issued the following statement after today’s Board of Equalization meeting:
“The Board of Equalization took the appropriate step today by requesting additional information regarding the impact of the proposal before them. The Board has every right to be fully informed and the County looks forward to providing members with information from the assessment department to ensure that happens."
“From the beginning, I have said the County is committed to ensuring that the assessment process is both fair and accurate. We remain actively engaged in that process as the assessment department continues to work with property owners to process informal reviews and today, the BOE began hearing formal appeals. The assessment process is long, but it is in place to ensure that property owners are heard and that corrections, when appropriate, are made. The deadline to file a BOE appeal is Monday, July 29.”