KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday marked the deadline to file a property tax assessment appeal in Jackson County, Missouri.
Residents had until 5 p.m. to file a formal appeal. At a special meeting Tuesday morning, the county Board of Equalization will meet to discuss extending the deadline again.
The deadline, which was extended by three weeks earlier this month, comes after valuations for many homeowners skyrocketed compared to numbers last year.
41 Action News spoke with one woman who said the market value of her property climbed from $43,000 to $108,000, an increase of $65,000.
With the deadline to file an appeal quickly approaching, the Kansas City Public Library offered last-minute legal assistance Monday afternoon at the Irene H. Ruiz branch.
Many who went to the library for assistance said they still don't understand how the process works and were unsure what to do.
"I was going to kind of forget about it because I couldn't get anyone to help me, then I heard about it and I thought, 'I'm going right now,'" Bunny Coker said.
Coker said her assessment doubled this year, even though her home has extensive electrical issues, no central heating and other needed repairs.
"With the taxes you have to pay on your house every year, which is over $1,000, and this, I didn't see how I could afford to pay it," Coker said.
Coker got some help scanning pictures of her home and making copies to give to the Board of Equalization.
"The best practice is to submit evidence with the appeal. If you don't have everything together, that's okay, take it with you to the hearing," said Kara Harms, an attorney for Legal Aid of Western Missouri.
The county also offers a program for seniors that many may not know about, the Senior Quad Payment Program. Through the program, anyone over age 62 can spread out their property tax bill into four payments.*
Communities across Kansas City have come together over the last several weeks to try to fight assessment increases.
On Monday morning, the Southern Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City (SCLC-GKC) held a protest, march and appeal.
In a news release, SCLC-GKC said it was calling upon county leaders with three goals in mind: to extend the appeal deadline to Sept. 1; to enact policy and legislation to protect property owners "who will be victims of over-burdensome and unfair valuations and levies"; and to cease and reevaluate the assessment process "amid its current and historical systemic racism."
The SCLC-GKC said the high assessments put residents at risk of “higher tax bills and eventual home loss, homelessness, displacement, and further deterioration of the social and cultural fabric of inner city communities through gentrification.”
Irene Fernandez attended the rally on Monday and said her recent property tax assessment nearly tripled.
“We’ve not done really big upgrades or anything to the home, so I don’t know how that assessment was done,” she told 41 Action News. “We’d like to have an explanation how it was totally done.”
Fernandez brought a homemade sign to the protest and joined others who chanted during the speech.
With the deadline inching closer, she said the increases could bring harsh consequences to the area.
“You’re retired and you’ve lived in a neighborhood all your life,” Fernandez said. “If you can’t afford the taxes then you’re uprooted from your own neighborhood that you’ve lived in for 50 to 60 years. It’s not fair.”
Moving forward, she hoped Jackson County Executive Frank White would hear the concerns.
“Hopefully he has a heart for the older people and can change something here,” she said.
Nearly 22,000 Jackson County residents filed informal appeals in the wake of this year’s dramatic property assessment increases. White has defended the process, blaming sharp spikes on property values being undervalued for decades.
*To participate in the Senior Quad Payment Program, click here for the form, or submit application and proof of age and residence to:
415 E. 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
You can also email: SeniorApplication@Jacksongov.org