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'That pretty well puts us out of business': Small business owner speaks out about high property tax assessment

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Jun 27, 2023

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Thousands of concerned Jackson County residents continue to seek their appeal process, but one population of the community wants to make sure they are heard as well: small business owners.

Not only are they concerned about high taxes on their homes, but they are having to worry about how this affects their income.

“I just may be out of business, and I may be turning two properties over to Jackson County,” said Western Capell, owner of Western Motor Exchange.

Capell has poured 28 years of his life into Western Motor Exchange, a small mom-and-pop auto repair shop in Independence. With his own name on the line, it has always been honest work.

“We try to be the low-cost provider,” Capell said.

Because of the steep increase in property taxes, Independence is going to lose one of its local businesses come the end of this month.

Capell is closing down his business for good after he says the cards were stacked against him. There were some other reasons, but the high property assessment value was the last straw.

“There hasn’t been any improvement done on the property, so I felt like it had to be a mistake,” Capell said.

One of his business buildings was valued around $220,000 this year. Last year, it was around $25,000. That doesn't even include the assessment for a separate building located on the western side of his land.

“The truth is, that pretty well puts us out of business. We wouldn’t be able to occur those costs,” Capell said.

If the assessment stands, he would have to pay $15,000 more in taxes. It came down to charging more from his customers or closing. He decided to shut down the business, but he still plans to appeal.

“The reason why is because somebody is coming in to buy, and they know they’ve got a $17,000 bill at the end of the year, every single year. No matter how affordable I sell the property for, somebody is gonna say, 'Hey, that's too big of an expense,'” Capell said.

If the appeal does not work, Capell plans to hand over his properties to Jackson County. He says there would be no point in investing more money to fix the place for selling.

“In my opinion, that would make the property unselling and have zero value,” said Capell.