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Judge rules against Jackson County’s motion to dismiss in assessment lawsuit

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Posted at 2:57 PM, Dec 22, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The cities of Blue Springs and Independence received welcome news earlier this week in their lawsuit regarding the 2023 Jackson County property assessment process.

The pair filed lawsuits earlier this year in addition to a separate lawsuit filed by Lee's Summit. All three contained similar claims alleging shortcomings in the property assessment process.

Blue Springs officials voted on Sept. 21 to join the lawsuit first filed by Independence on Sept. 15.

“The Mayor and City Council are authorizing legal action to ensure the residents of Blue Springs receive a fair and consistent process for the assessment of real property in compliance with state law,” Blue Springs officials said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “We feel it is necessary at this time to take action and represent the citizens of Blue Springs against these unfair assessments amid growing unresolved complaints.”

LINK | Complete coverage of Jackson County property assessments

In November, attorneys representing Jackson County filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Independence and Blue Springs.

On Wednesday, Dec. 20, Cass County Associate Circuit Judge Derek Spencer dismissed the county’s motion. Spencer was assigned the case after all judges in Jackson County recused themselves from the case.

After hearing oral arguments on the motion, Spencer denied the county’s motion and ordered the county’s attorneys to answer to claims made in the original filing by Dec. 29, 2023, and set a Jan. 5, 2024, hearing on the matter.

“The Independence City Council did not make this decision lightly, but feels litigation has become necessary in order to stand up for the interests of Independence residents and ensure the assessment process is being done in compliance with state law,” the city said in a statement Thursday night. “It is the City’s hope that this unfortunate, but necessary action, will finally force Jackson County to do what is right for the City of Independence and its residents.”

A message sent Friday to Jackson County officials seeking reaction to the judge's ruling had not been returned at the time of this publication.

The Lee’s Summit lawsuit, which stands separate from the other lawsuit, was also challenged by the county with an order to dismiss filed on Oct. 13. Judge Spencer was also assigned the Lee’s Summit lawsuit. He has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss in that case. A hearing in this lawsuit is also scheduled for Jan. 5, 2024.

“After years of Jackson County’s repeated failures to make correct real property assessments, the City of Lee’s Summit filed a lawsuit to get a court’s help to force the County and its officials to make accurate assessments as required by Missouri law,” Lee’s Summit officials said in announcing their lawsuit in early September.

On Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced he was filing a lawsuit against Jackson County over the 2023 assessment process.

RELATED | Jackson County legislator calls for ‘emergency meeting’ following assessment audit

In two separate cases also related to the county’s assessment process, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that Jackson County residents who had filed a class-action lawsuit had not exhausted all of their remedies prior to seeking help from the state’s top court. The justices also ruled in favor of Tyler Technologies, the third-party vendor hired by the county to conduct the assessment process.