Jackson County officials say they have wrapped up the first round of appeals of property tax assessments.
Gail McCann Beatty, director of assessment, told county legislators on Monday that her office has wrapped up the nearly 22,000 informal appeals of assessments, except for a few hundred commercial properties. Assessments originally went out in June.
Many assessments went up substantially this year, and county officials have been deluged with calls from thousands of upset home owners. County Legislators and others have called the assessments unfair and in some cases simply inaccurate, but the administration of County Executive Frank White Jr. has defended them and urged people to work through the appeal process.
That process potentially has several steps:
• Go through an informal appeal in which the Assessment Department rechecks its work and the property owner can provide information as well. The last of those appeals are now done, and those “stipulation” notices – thousands of them, mostly sent by email – were sent out last weekend, McCann Beatty said.
• A property owner still unsatisfied with the outcome can appeal to the county’s Board of Equalization, which is independent of the Assessment Department. Those hearings are continuing, and McCann Beatty said officials have worked to address complaints that people have not been getting timely notice of their hearings.
“There should be no reason why notices don’t get out in a timely manner for taxpayers for their BOE hearings,” she told legislators.
• Finally, a property owner can appeal to the State Tax Commission.
County tax bills, due Dec. 31, start going in the mail in the middle of November. Meanwhile, BOE hearings continue and could for several weeks at least. The county says it’s trying to generate an updated tax bill within a couple days of an informal review or BOE decision, though it looks as if many across the county still won’t have that resolution to their cases before tax bills are mailed.
“When those bills start to drop, it’s going to be mayhem – absolute mayhem,” said Legislator Crystal Williams, D-Kansas City.
She used the example of bungalows that have suddenly gone up in valuation from $150,000 to $550,000 – and owners are in limbo as their cases work through the appeals.
“You want to see how pissed off people can get, make them think they’re going to lose their homes because we screwed up,” she said.
In the meantime, property owners are liable for the full amount on the bill they receive – nonpayment brings interest and penalties – though they would get a refund later if they appeal successfully.
“People that probably don’t have money are supposed to come up with money they don’t have,” Williams said.