KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Board of Equalization on Tuesday extended the deadline to file a formal property tax assessment appeal until Sept. 3.
The board held a special meeting Tuesday morning to consider extending the deadline for Jackson County home and business owners. The deadline had been Monday.
Nearly 22,000 informal appeals were filed with Jackson County after property tax assessments skyrocketed compared to years past. The BOE has received at least 10,000 formal appeals.
Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying he understood the board's decision.
"We will continue to work with the Board through this process to ensure that all property owners are heard," White said in the statement. "Under the leadership of (Director of Assessment) Gail McCann Beatty, our assessment department diligently continues its efforts to process informal reviews and will recommend any adjustments to property values, where appropriate, to ensure accuracy, fairness and equity."
The extension to file an appeal was exactly what neighborhood groups wanted.
"We have hundreds, if not thousands, of people that would qualify for this appeal, and we haven't reached them. This will give us more time to do that," said Charles Lona with the Westside Neighborhood Association.
Teresa Perry, director of Share the Love House, said she's in the process of getting lawyers and finding a space to help inform people.
"I could just cry. This is a big lifesaver," Perry said. "To me, it's going to give people hope. They shouldn't have to go through this. Let's go get this done and get you the help you need."
However, some people have left their appeal hearings with a denial. One man told 41 Action News the BOE said he could bring more evidence with him to the appeal, but when he showed up with the information, they wouldn't see it.
Debbie Twyman found out at her hearing the BOE had lumped her three properties together without telling her.
A small piece of land added on to her property to make room for a garage increased in value from $2,000 to $6,000. The assessment on her house went up as well, although she showed the board recent nearby home sales that were much lower.
Twyman said the BOE directed her to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department, which helps people map out properties. That department gave her a new property number. Twyman returned to the BOE and learned her hearing would be rescheduled and she would be getting a new assessment.
"I said, 'Okay, when will I get that information?' We don't know," Twyman said of the board's response. "'Will I get that information before the deadline to resubmit my appeal?' We don't know. So, welcome to my limbo."
Other groups have also protested the increase in property values and called for officials to reevaluate the process. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City (SCLC-GKC) held a protest in front of the Jackson County Courthouse on Monday.
Many people who protested outside the courthouse said they felt the appeal process was confusing and they needed more time.
White has defended the process, blaming sharp spikes on properties being undervalued for decades.
As part of his statement Tuesday, White also pointed out that assessment appeals aren't necessarily appeals of tax bills and won't necessarily result in lower property taxes, though taxes are paid based on the assessed value of property.
"The process gives property owners the right to file an appeal to dispute their fair market value as determined by the assessment department, not their tax bill," White said. "Tax bills are not final and furthermore, the assessor is not a tax collector, does not set the tax rate and does not determine the amount of taxes a property owner pays. Again, the assessor’s job is to determine fair market value and make sure every property tax dollar is assessed equally so property owners are not paying more than their fair share. As this reassessment process moves forward, fulfilling that state-mandated duty remains our priority.”
The Board of Equalization initially said the new deadline to file a formal appeal would be Sept. 1, which is the Sunday before Labor Day. As a result, the board adjusted the deadline to Sept. 3.