Records show delinquent taxes plague major developments across state lines

Posted at 6:26 PM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2018-12-12 14:13:19-05

Tax collection day comes twice a year in Johnson County. 

While there's the convenience of paying taxes online, some simply prefer showing up in person at the administration building.

"Truthfully I don't have a mortgage, so there's no mortgage that it comes out of. I've got to pay my taxes that's why I come in person," George Knittle, who paid taxes on Wednesday, said.

Every year, the Johnson County Treasurer's Office has the task of collecting more than $1 billion.

"In Johnson County we have a very high collection rate," Thomas Franzen, the Johnson County finance director and treasurer, said.

That tax money pays for police, firefighters, infrastructure and other government services.

"We bill taxes for the community for not just Johnson County government, but for other jurisdictions as well," said Franzen. "We bill for cities, school districts and other taxing districts as well as the state."

41 Action News wanted to know who isn't paying their fair share.

"Because we pay ours and they don't and they get late and they get in trouble," Claudia Zipp, a taxpayer, said.

Through records requests we found the top delinquent accounts in Johnson County, Kansas and in Jackson County, Missouri over the last three years.

The glaring similarities on both sides of the state line, the top offenders are associated with major developments.

Take the owners of the Mission Gateway Project. They topped the list in 2016 -- owing $379,363.95. The site on Johnson Drive also came in second the year before that at $401,743.40.

Previous coverage: Mission Gateway Project takes big step forward

According to Tom Valenti with the Cameron Group LLC who is overseeing the project, the delinquency is a result of the years of their inability to move the development of the property forward.

</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Source: Johnson County Treasury and Financial Management 

In a statement Valenti told 41 Action News, "that forward movement is now happening and we will be paying the taxes at the time we complete the construction financing for the first phase of the project later this summer."

South in Leawood at 135th Street, near Roe Avenue, there are plans to turn a plot of land into a shopping and dining destination called "The District."

But according to the county, owners Alberta Development Partners based in Colorado, still haven't paid off the delinquent tax amount totaling $1,012,988.32 over the last two years.

</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Source: Johnson County Treasury and Financial Management 

We reached out to the Alberta Development Partners wondering what caused the delinquency in the first place. They never responded.

"We will get different feedback of why they can't pay their taxes, a lot of times it's economic situations that are driving that they're not able to pay taxes because their business model cannot be functioning as they had thought. Typically when it comes to taxpayers like you and I, the typical response is 'I forgot' or 'I didn't know I had to pay taxes' or 'I thought my mortgage company had taken care of that for me," said Franzen.

At first if an individual or business misses the deadline to pay taxes you get hit with interest. In both Johnson and Jackson counties, you've got three years to pay the delinquent amount before the legal process begins.

"File the foreclosure suit against the property it gives the owner of that property the chance to come in and pay all of the back taxes to go ahead and keep their property out of the tax sale. If they do not come in and redeem those properties we then have that auction and that's when the community can go ahead and bid those parcels and based on whatever the market conditions are, they will go ahead and apply those parcels at auctions and we will take those proceeds and apply them to the back taxes," Franzen said.

Across the state line that's what happened to a golf course in eastern Jackson County.

According to Jackson County spokesperson Angie Jeffries, the parcel that belonged to "The Links at The Stone Canyon" was sold to the Land trust of Jackson County in the August 2016 delinquent land tax foreclosure sale. By then the parcel had accrued $2,212,249.37 in back taxes. 

Source: Jackson County

Back at the Johnson County Treasurer's Office, good financial citizens have a message for those tardy taxpayers.

"Well I'd say that they're not holding up there responsibility, I would say that creates more of a burden for us that are paying our taxes," Jon Buckman, who paid taxes Wednesday said.

According to statistics Johnson County collected 99 percent of taxes for the 2015 tax year, compared to 91 percent in Jackson County the same time period.

For more information:

The Valuation & Taxation Process

Delinquent Tax

Tax Foreclosure Process