State Rep. Jeff Coleman says he frustrated at Jackson County’s inability to address residents’ concerns about sharply higher property assessments, which could lead to higher taxes.
Right now, he said, public officials are bickering and homeowners are caught in the middle.
“And that’s not right,” Coleman said at Tuesday’s monthly Grain Valley Partnership luncheon.
He said state legislators, who gather in Jefferson City next week for a veto session and short one-issue special session, will no doubt discuss – at least informally – the assessment issues in Jackson County and in St. Louis. Coleman, R-Grain Valley, is on an interim House committee looking at assessments.
He said there’s sentiment to have the state step in, likely placing a cap on increased property values.
“And behind the scenes, that’s really what they (county officials) want us to do,” Coleman said.
He mentioned the concerns – aired by many residents at County Legislature meetings, at rallies and elsewhere – that they won’t be able to pay their taxes or stay in their homes.
“I will tell you, I think there’s enough support that something will happen. The question is who’s going to do it,” he said, adding that having the state step in would be in preference.
An estimated 30,000 people appealed their assessments, and many of those cases are before the county’s Board of Equalization, which is working through them one by one. County legislators approved bringing in outside help to speed the process.
Still, it’s a large workload to get through by the end of the year.
“Right now I don’t have the faith that’s going to happen,” Coleman said.
Coleman expressed particular frustration that last month the Special Interim Committee on Oversight of Local Taxation held a hearing on this issue in Kansas City and that he strongly encouraged County Executive Frank White Jr. to attend or send someone from his administration.
“So a state public hearing about something that is going on in your county, and nobody showed up,” Coleman said. He added later that Theresa Galvin, chair of the County Legislature, did attend.
Coleman, who’s also on the Grain Valley School Board, pointed out that school districts have to adopt hold hearings and adopt budgets in the coming weeks.
“How do we do that when Jackson County doesn’t even know what they’re going to do yet?” he asked.
“It could put the school districts in major, major issues with their budgets,” he said.