(The Center Square) – Jackson County government officials didn’t comment on Missouri Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s lawsuit involving property tax assessments, but they pledged a vigorous and successful defense.
“It’s disappointing to see legal actions being used as tools for political gain, especially when they create confusion and unfairly reduce the community’s confidence in public institutions,” Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Today’s lawsuit is another sad example of this unfortunate trend. We call upon every news agency to provide equitable coverage of our successful defense in these legal battles, just as they report on the filing of lawsuits.”
Bailey’s lawsuit was filed hours before the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jackson County and in favor of one of its vendors in separate cases brought by taxpayers alleging illegal actions taken surrounding the 2023 property tax assessment process. A class action lawsuit was dismissed in a unanimous decision as the justices ruled the taxpayers hadn’t exhausted other avenues of addressing the issue.
On Monday, Republican Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick released preliminary results stating 200,000 homeowners in Jackson County “were victims of a flawed and inadequate assessment process.” Fitzpatrick’s office initiated the audit in September after receiving complaints about Jackson County allegedly violating state law regarding physical inspection requirements when the assessed valuation of a property increases by more than 15% in a year.
Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr., said the unanimous decision by the state Supreme Court was proof of the county’s commitment to a lawful and fair assessment process.
“While we respect the role of oversight, it’s clear that this recent lawsuit is an improper and politically motivated attack on our process,” White said in a statement. “These efforts have been about rectifying injustices and ensuring fair taxation for our residents.”
The Supreme Court decision followed a Circuit Court’s refusal to dismiss the case.
“From day one of my tenure, my focus has always been on accuracy and fairness in property assessments,” Assessor Gail McCann Beatty said in a statement. “Since then, my department has worked diligently to correct inaccuracies in property valuations that have unfairly burdened thousands of Jackson County residents. Any claims of wrongdoing are not only baseless but are a disservice to the taxpayers of Jackson County, who we serve with integrity.”
Bailey’s lawsuit names White and McCann Beatty as defendants along with the Jackson County Legislature, the Board of Equalization and Tyler Technologies, a vendor based in Plano, Texas. The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of dismissing a class action suit against Tyler Technologies in a separate ruling on Tuesday.