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Homeowners say county never responded about property assessment appeal

Jackson County Homeowner.jpg
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 21:25:20-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Many people can attest to the endless number of emails that pile up, but for the Jackson County Board of Equalization, the implications could be more serious.

At least 3,800 BOE property assessment appeals have sat in a county email inbox for months.

Jackson County officials said those emails are a part of 8,600 total unread emails in an account that BOE staff members were supposed to monitor.

"The process was flawed from the beginning," Westside resident Paul Rojas said.

Rojas's appeal could be one of those unread emails. He hasn't heard back from the county and still has no idea when he's supposed to go in for an appeal hearing.

He sent in his formal appeal when the assessment on his house went up more than 400 percent.

"I'm just going to wait," Rojas said. "I'm late with my taxes anyway, like thousands and thousands of people."

Blue Springs resident Tony Barnes's property assessment increased by $46,000.

He filed an informal review appeal with the county assessment department before the June 24th deadline, sending his information into the email address listed on the website.

The county offered two ways to appeal; with an informal review and a formal BOE appeal. Even if you filed an informal review, you could still file with the BOE.

Barnes says he wishes he would have known that, because now he doesn't know what he'll do.

"They haven’t responded," Barnes said. "That was the 23rd and here we are, it’s the middle of January."

He wonders if anyone has ever looked at his appeal. He received an automated response.

Barnes sent multiple follow-up emails and called, but said no one answered the line.

"You can’t email them because if you email them you get this lovely little excuse letter that tells you they’re not reading any emails," Barnes said.

41 Action News asked the county and the BOE how the error could have happened, how many staff members work for the BOE, and how many of them monitor the email inbox.

A county spokesperson said Thursday night that they anticipate being able to provide a "comprehensive update" to the legislature in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday, the county said they are assigning staff to help the BOE get through the unresolved appeals, though they didn't say how many staff members.

"In February when that escrow analysis hits, and it’s going to hit everybody in their mortgage company, who’s going to pay this difference?" said Barnes.

The county received tens of thousands of assessment appeals in 2019 and it'll likely take them to summertime to get through them all.

The process has set off a general feeling of distrust among taxpayers.

"I'll be honest with you, I don't hold much confidence in what they tell you or tell me or anybody else," Rojas said.

The assessment department recently sent out a request for proposal, asking for bids to hire outside professional help to maintain data and records.