Vast majority of Jackson County property assessments likely invalid, state auditor charges; cap being sought

(The Center Square) – Republican Missouri Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick on Monday said 200,000 homeowners in Jackson County “were victims of a flawed and inadequate assessment process.”

An audit began in September after complaints about the county violating state law regarding physical inspection requirements when the assessed valuation of property increases by more than 15% in a reassessment year.

Fitzpatrick wrote a letter to County Executive Frank White, Assessor Gail McCann Beatty and the Jackson County Legislature stating government auditing standards required him to disclose problems as they were time sensitive and necessary to be communicated before the audit’s completion next year. The information was reviewed and confirmed by the State Tax Commission before it was communicated to Jackson County officials.

“I urge the Jackson County Legislature to take our concerns into consideration and explore all possible remedies for the thousands of innocent homeowners wronged by an invalid process,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “I would also tell Jackson County residents who saw their home values increase by more than 15% that if I were in their shoes, and felt my assessment was unfair, I would pay my taxes under protest and plan to pursue remedies available to me by law based on my individual circumstances in the event the County does not remedy the flawed assessments.”

The audit found Jackson County failed to provide property owners with adequate notification of their rights regarding physical inspections. Property owners weren’t informed a physical inspection was required by state law. They also didn’t receive information on their rights to a physical inspection beyond their right to an interior inspection.

“As a result, property owners had little or no opportunity to schedule and receive an interior inspection and to consider the information before the deadline,” Fitzpatrick’s letter stated. “This limits the property owner’s access to the due process afforded by statute.”

Sean Smith, who represents Jackson County’s 6th District, urged the legislature to take immediate action.

“I am requesting that our Legislative Chairman schedule an emergency meeting so that we can enact appropriate remediation recommendations to be taken up by the Board of Equalization,” Smith said in a statement. “Absent immediate action by the Jackson County Board of Equalization, I request that the State Tax Commission take remediation action on behalf of ALL IMPACTED taxpayers. The lawful and appropriate action is to immediately set a 14.9% cap on increases for 2023 reassessments.”

Fitzpatrick asked Jackson County officials to consider correcting the matter by limiting assessed value increases to 15%, using prior year assessed valuations or allowing additional appeals and tax protests. Once relief is determined, Fitzpatrick urged officials to notify taxpayers of the remedies and to allow taxpayers time for pursuit of the solutions.

“The unlawful reassessment that has placed a massive financial and emotional hardship on so many Jackson County residents must be immediately corrected,” Smith said. “I am disappointed that these issues, which were first highlighted months ago, haven’t yet been resolved.”

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