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Jackson County assessment director says property assessments won't be as bad this year as in 2019

kansas city housing market
Posted at 6:12 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 19:12:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County property owners are beginning to get their property assessments for 2021, and the county's assessment director says people probably won't be as shocked opening their 2021 property assessment as they were in 2019.

More than 22,000 property owners appealed their assessment in 2019.

The Board of Equalization, the department that handles the appeals, didn't get through all the appeal hearings until February 2021.

"We intentionally were much more conservative this year," Jackson County Assessment Diretor Gail McCann Beatty said Wednesday.

Beatty said she hopes to get the county to true market value within the next several years, but do it in a way that won't hurt homeowners.

Properties have been consistently undervalued for the past decade and the county still isn't where it needs to be.

Many people saw their property assessments quadruple in 2019.

Beatty said this year, only new construction and renovated properties will see an increase of 15 percent or higher.

About 85 percent of Jackson County properties will see a 10 percent increase or lower, Beatty said.

"I got my assessment," Ivanhoe neighborhood resident Alang Young said. "It wasn't quite a jarring surprise as it was last year. Of course last year, some of our property tax amounts were raised 300, 400, 1,200 percent on one lot I own."

41 Action News talked to Young in 2019, who owns properties and three parcels where he grows a community garden. One parcel went up 400 percent, while the other right next to it went up 1,200 percent.

"As I was saying, I know my peppers look great but they don't look that good," Young said.

He and the neighborhood council helped hundreds of residents fill out their appeals when they also saw their properties skyrocket.

His properties increased again this year but nowhere near 2019.

"One lot last year in 2020, it was at $1,958. This year it's valued at $2,000, so it went up $42, so that's respectable," Young said.

Beatty said due to COVID-19, her assessors weren't able to get in the field for in-person assessments as much, which is ideal and yields the most accurate assessments.

In 2019, the county relied on outdated computer software and online maps to do assessments. Many properties were valued at 14.9 percent. Any assessment at 15 percent or higher requires in-person visits, but the department has been chronically understaffed for years.

Beatty said in 2019 it was impossible to physically assess every property with 15 assessors.

This year, her office used a process called 'trending.'

"You take a group of properties that have similarities and you can define those similarities, and you adjust them all a certain percentage as you look at the sales and see what's happening in that area," Beatty said.

She said her office was also conservative due to the hot housing market right now, which she did not anticipate given the pandemic. Houses are selling for much higher than what they're appraised for, potential buyers are putting in bids well over asking prices, and realtors hike up listings multiple times a day.

"The increases you see this year are incredibly conservative; they don't match what the market has said because we don't want to penalize folks and then as the market corrects, they're sitting there on these really, really high values," Beatty said.

Looking ahead to 2023, Beatty says her office will reach a turning point. It hired Tyler Technologies, who hired 20 data collectors, to do a parcel-by-parcel review. The assessment office also hired on 15 more assessors.

The assessment office has three contracts with Tyler Technologies totaling $18 million, which comes out of the assessment fund, separate from the general fund.

The newly-hired data collectors are already out in the field working to get a more accurate picture for 2023. They started in Lee's Summit and should finish soon.

One of those employees will knock on your door and ask you questions about your home. If you're not home, they'll leave a postcard. You can either fill out the information and mail it back to the address on the postcard or fill out a form online.

"That will give us more information about the interior of the properties we don't normally see," Beatty said.

She doesn't anticipate her office will be inundated with appeals this year like they were in 2019.

"We won't know until we finish parcel by parcel review and see where the values come out," Beatty said. "I'm hoping that the increases we did in 2019, along with what we did here, will balance. Hopefully the market will do some sort of correction, where we will see them kind of meet in the middle, that would be ideal."

Young hopes this year's assessment doesn't put neighbors into a panic about whether they can keep their home.

"While we understand there may need to be increases - we're not against paying our fair share of taxes by any means - but the increases need to be at such a point that it's not a dramatic shock," Young said.

If someone does not think their assessment is correct or fair, they have a couple options.

They can file an informal review request by May 31 or file a formal appeal by July 12.

Both processes are the same; you will have to provide the same information. However, going the formal appeal route will ensure that you can further appeal your assessment before the Board of Equalization.