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Jackson County Executive Frank White urges end to lawsuit over property assessments

frank white april 8 2024.png
Posted at 4:42 PM, May 15, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said Wednesday he wants an end to the lawsuit filed over county property assessments.

Thelawsuit was filed by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and the Missouri State Tax Commission.

"A court has already found that Jackson County’s assessments ‘failed the citizens,’ were ‘inaccurate,’ and that there was a ‘lack in leadership and preparation of Jackson County officials,'" Bailey said in a statement. "The evidence in this case is overwhelming, which is why I’m confident in our ultimate success on the merits. My office has put in long hours on this case, and we will not stop until we’ve achieved justice for all Jackson County residents.”

Bailey's office said Wednesday it had received 968 submissions to its tip line since it was launched.

That number does not include complaints the AG's office received before the tip line was available.

White warned in a letter sent Wednesday to Bailey, state lawmakers and others the lawsuit could cause catastrophic financial damage to school districts in the county.

"The lawsuit threatens to nullify recent property assessments, potentially resulting in devastating financial losses for school districts, amounting to nearly $1,500 per student," White stated in the letter. "For example, the Lee’s Summit School District could face a loss of $32 million, nearly one-tenth of its revenue. Such losses would severely impact the ability of schools to provide quality education to our children."

The county executive said the lawsuit could mean a large tax increase to make up for the "artificial reduction in valuations sought by the lawsuit." 

COMPLETE COVERAGE | Jackson County property assessment

Widespread outrage followed the county's valuation of properties in a state-mandated reassessment process.

More than 40,000 appeals were filed, with 12,000 of those appeals left to be decided.

Jackson County Assessor Gail McCann Beatty told the Jackson County Legislature in a special Wednesday meeting the biggest reason most of those appeals have not been resolved is those making the appeals don't show up for their appeal appointments.

"The increases some residents have seen in last year’s state-mandated reassessment were a combination of economic changes that have significantly increased home values and years, if not decades, of inconsistent and unfair property assessments in Jackson County that tended to have more to do with who you know than how much your property is worth," White said in his letter.

The letter urged Bailey to work with the Jackson County officials to address any concerns about the appeals process through conversation and not litigation.

"By withdrawing this lawsuit, we can ensure that our schools, public safety services, and other vital entities continue to receive the necessary funding to serve our residents effectively," White said.

A hearing in the case is set for Friday in Jackson Court Court.