KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County residents saw assessment increases more than 70% higher than any other Missouri county in 2019 and failed to renew contracts in a timely manner, according to a state audit.
Thousands of Jackson County residents saw big hikes in the assessed property valuations in 2019, which prompted lawsuits and appeals.
Jess Buck and his next door neighbor Kenneth Herron both appealed their reassessments, which tripled for both men.
"It's something I want to forget," Herron said. "The way they did it was just ridiculous. It was just a jump all of the sudden."
Of the appeals that have been processed, “the assessed valuation of 13,000 parcels” decreased roughly $246 million, according to State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office.
"After the reassessments in 2019, the great majority of property owners in Jackson County saw their assessed valuations go up — in some cases, significantly,” Galloway said in a statement. “We heard from many concerned taxpayers who were understandably alarmed by the sudden increase.”
Last January, nearly 4,000 appeals were discovered in an email account and had yet to be processed.
Property assessment analysts said during an August 2019 meeting that missing information could have skewed the assessments, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the county that December.
“It is essential the county closely monitor the maintenance of assessment records and data, the implementation of the new computer-assisted appraisal system, the reassessment services for the biennial reassessments, and the training of staff to ensure effective and efficient future reassessments,” the Missouri state audit said. “Clear, detailed and timely written contracts are necessary to ensure all parties are aware of their duties and responsibilities, prevent misunderstandings, and ensure county money is used appropriately and effectively.”
The audit also found that reassessment consultant contracts had lapsed, but the county still issued invoices during that period.
It also recommended that the county legislature and county executive “establish procedures to ensure board and commission lists and websites are complete, accurate and updated,” as well as filling vacancies and expired terms in a timely manner.
Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said in a letter to Galloway and the auditor’s office that county administration is “committed” to working with the legislature throughout the reassessment process.
"As somebody who didn’t fight as much last time, maybe since it’s high, maybe they won’t increase it as much or won’t increase it at all this time," Buck said.