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Wyandotte County residents concerned about property appraisal increases

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Posted at 7:57 PM, Mar 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-05 20:57:39-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Wyandotte County Appraiser’s Office mailed out appraisal valuations on March 1.

On its website, the office admitted that “most property owners should expect to see an increase in their valuation.

The appraiser's office said they attribute increases to a shortage of housing supply, increased housing demand and revitalization in various areas of the county.

“The main driving factor behind it is there’s a housing shortage,” said Matthew Willard, the Wyandotte County Appraiser. “There’s not enough houses for folks to buy.”

In the historic Parkwood Colony neighborhood, a lot of homeowners aren’t interesting in selling.

“These are people that are retired, that have been on a fixed income for ages,” said John Grahovac, the president of the neighborhood association. “Their taxes can’t afford to go up.”

Willard wants to clarify the appraiser’s office does not drive taxes.

Instead, those are based on budgets determined by jurisdictions like cities, counties and school districts, including Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.

One Parkwood resident is not happy about about a school bond vote.

“The $420 million school bond, we need to vote No on that,” said Lisa Walker Yeager, Parkwood Colony vice president.

She works with the Wyco Commonwealth Advocacy Coalition, a group of county residents who have been working to inform residents about measures they believe affect their communities.

The coalition held multiple sessions in February about the $420 million bond issue KCKPS is proposing for capital improvements.

“Some of our kids can’t really read and write," Walker Yeager said. "Let’s address some of these major issues and see where we stand with that."

She says proposed tax increases worry her because her neighborhood is dealing with challenges.

“There’s no grocery stores in the neighborhood, as you see, we don’t have curbs,” Yeager said. "How can you raise an appraisal where there’s no curb appeal?"

She says when she looks around, the so-called value isn't apparent in her neighborhood.

“We have no sidewalks in some of the areas," Yeager said. "It’s not a thriving economy as what Quindaro has always been. Financially, it’s not livable.”

She would know.

Walker Yeager was born and raised in Parkwood and moved back after living in Kansas City, Missouri.

She says she’s vocal now because she wants to advocate for the elderly and single-parent residents in her neighborhood.

It’s something the county appraiser’s office has thought about as well. In addition to recommending state services like Homestead for low-income seniors, Willard says there are ways in place to make the appeals process accessible.

“Phone hearings, and we’ve always done them, are a good opportunity for folks to have that appeal hearing without even having to get out,” he said.

Willard wants people to know his office encourages people to appeal if they feel the appraised value is more than they feel they could reasonably get if the property was sold or if they feel the classification is incorrect.

“I think there’s the idea that if you come in, it’s going to be, I don’t know what exactly, but not friendly, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “The way that we’ve got this set up, it really is just a conversation.”

Kansas statute says the county must inspect houses in person at least once every six years. Willard says staffing issues and safety are primary reasons why the inspections aren’t more frequent.

He said he also understands residents are likely to have a better understanding of these in-person conditions and it's why he welcomes appeals.

“The appeal process is an opportunity to get a good, detailed look at the property with the owner,” Willard said. “If there are adjustments to be made, we’re going to make them every time.”

It’s a promise Willard says he’s devoted to keeping if that means values at a fair market rates, which state statute also requires.

He saw what Jackson County went through during its property assessment saga, and said he believes the system his office has in place should help avoid confusion.

“We keep it all in house where I’m responsible for it at the end of the day,” Willard said. “I’m signing and certifying, it’s all my folks. Then just making sure that we follow the statutory guidelines and the rules and regulations put out by the Department of Revenue.”

Walker Yeager says appealing sounds good in theory, but that awareness is also key.

“If you’re not knowledgeable on appeals, I don’t think people are going to appeal,” she said.

Willard admits awareness has been a problem in the past, which is why he said his office is working to combat that this time around. The Wyandotte County appraiser’s office is hosting five more appraised values information sessions before the March 30 deadline to appeal.

The dates are as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 6 at 6PM at the George Meyn Center, 126 State Avenue, Bonner Springs, KS
  • Monday, March 11 at 6PM at the Joe Amayo Community Center Gym, 2810 Metropolitan Avenue, Kansas City, KS
  • Wednesday, March 13 at 6PM at the Turner Recreation Center, 831 S 55th Street, Kansas City, KS
  • Wednesday, March 20 at 6PM at the Piper USD 203 High School Auditorium, 4400 N 107 St, Kansas City, KS
  • Monday, March 25 at 5PM at the Municipal Building Lobby, 701 N 7th Street Tfwy, Kansas City, KS

Walker Yeager’s done her fair share of meetings, but the upcoming sessions could be an option.
Willard says he’s completely open to meeting with neighborhood associations and Walker Yeager says she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her resident's homes.

“We would like to keep our homeowners in our homes,” she said.