KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Jackson County homeowners are furious at County Executive Frank White after refusing to admit any errors in the county’s process for assessing property taxes. And they're planning on voicing that displeasure at a county meeting later this morning.
KCTV5 has been digging deep into this situation from the beginning, finding that property taxes doubled or even tripled.
White is now inviting county legislators and the public to attend a Board of Equalization meeting taking take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Jackson County Courthouse.
County assessor Gail McCann Beatty plans to address the Board of Equalization at today's meeting to give a full presentation to the board explaining her process. At this time, it's not clear if there will be any public comment allowed.
White explains he will not do anything about it, citing that the request is going against state law.
In some situations, KCTV5 investigators found modest homes being nailed with sharply higher taxes, and homes in fancier neighborhoods are getting deals.
Some people are telling us they may even lose their homes over their recent assessments. This has many property owners in a fury.
The county legislature has called on White to look for a remedy, but White says his hands are tied.
White says “he’s checked nine ways to Sunday” for a solution, but he’s limited by state law.
“Today I received notice from my staff, who learned through the media, that a letter was being sent to me from members of the Jackson County Legislature. A letter I have still yet to receive from the Legislature.
In that letter, members of the Jackson County Legislature requested that I discard all of the 2019 assessment values and freeze those values at last year’s level.
I will absolutely not do so.
Their request is illegal and would cause many to pay more than their fair share of taxes because those whose property is properly assessed would continue to be responsible for their taxes, and would have to pay for those whose property is undervalued.
How is that equitable? How is that fair? How does that help our schools, libraries and mental health services?
While I expect this type of cheap political stunt from some on the Legislature, I must admit that I am surprised and saddened by some legislators’ participation. The County Assessor, County Associates and citizens deserve much more from each of them.
We know that the real estate market has improved. We know Jackson County has undervalued many properties for decades. The legislature knows this too, in fact, it’s in their letter. Legislative member Crystal Williams stated it during Monday’s legislative meeting:
“We’ve also been undervalued in Jackson County because of a lack of political will to address these issues for what appears to be decades. That’s understandable.”
Now she and her colleagues are doing the exact same thing.
It’s that lack of political will that keeps the County from moving forward and I will not kick the can down the road again. I will not break the law because they are afraid to do what’s right. I will be politically courageous enough to stand up and do the right thing, even when it’s not popular.
Furthermore, I understand taxpayers are confused, scared and in some cases, angry that they are now being assessed at fair market value. They have every right to voice their concerns, to have their questions answered, and most importantly, to a fair and accurate assessment. Our assessment department has been and continues to work with everyone to ensure that happens. Legislative member Ron Finley acknowledged that during Monday’s legislative meeting:
“I don’t see yet that there’s some big conspiracy going on to run everybody off the west side. I know you have that impression, but you’ve heard the assessor saying they’ve gotten complaints. They’re looking at what they can do.”
This Legislature is failing to give the assessor adequate time to do her job. And anyone who tries to blame Jackson County Assessor Gail McCann Beatty for this situation is both uninformed and quite simply wrong. She is doing her job ethically and fairly and I will continue to support her.
Lastly, state statute says the assessor must deliver certified values to the County Clerk on or before July 1. As such, the assessor will fulfill her responsibility.
If the Legislature directs the County Clerk to break the law and not send those certified values to taxing authorities, that’s up to them. The County Clerk does not report to me, she reports to the Legislature.”