Jackson County legislators on Monday rejected out of hand a proposal by County Executive Frank White Jr. to cut property taxes as a partial offset to sharply increased tax assessments. They called it inadequate, said it was the wrong solution to the problem and expressed irritation that White put the idea out in a Sunday evening press release just ahead of the Legislature’s hearing for next year’s levy rates – and wasn’t there Monday to discuss it.
“It’s not going to help my constituents,” said At-Large Legislator Crystal Williams, D-Kansas City.
Legislator Jalen Anderson, D-Blue Springs, said he had gotten 50 emails Monday morning – none in support of White’s plan.
“The frustration of the people of Jackson County couldn’t be higher. … I mean, this is just outrageous,” he said.
White is suggesting a one-time $3 million property tax cut. It would need legislative approval. He says nearly 200,000 people in the county would pay less in county taxes that they did in 2018. For instance, a person with a $100,000 home paid $133.25 in taxes – the county’s share of the total tax bill, that is – in 2018. That would drop to $111.64 under White’s plan.
It has to drop to some extent anyway, to $116.69 because of the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution, which limits state and local revenues.
“So you’re talking about five bucks” as an extra cut under White’s plan, said Legislator Ronald Finley, D-Kansas City.
And legislators were quick to seize on this point: The county gets about 8 percent of the property taxes it collects. It also collects for schools, cities, fire districts, library districts and other local governments. Schools are by far the biggest portion of that.
Legislator Dan Tarwater said White’s press release – “this B.S. thing,” he called it – suggests people’s taxes would go down, when in fact the county has no control over what schools, fire districts and others do with their levies.
The root of the issue, legislators said, is the sharp increase in property assessments this year. They stressed again that they are hearing constantly from constituents in fear of losing their homes if higher assessments are upheld and their taxes go up.
“Fixing the assessments is better than a tax break,” Williams said.
Legislators are set to approve next year’s levies next Monday.