Johnson County homeowners frustrated with huge spikes in property tax valuations

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- Many homeowners in northeast Johnson County are frustrated after seeing huge spikes in their property valuations. The county says many homeowners are seeing double digit increases.

Johnson County says a big reason for the sharp jumps is a dramatic drop in the inventory of homes for sale, which is driving up home prices, thereby lifting tax bills.

Homeowners in the northeast part of the county with homes valued under $350,000 are seeing the biggest increases in property valuation.

Alex Wilson is a proud dad to 11-month-old baby Henry. He and his family moved to Roeland Park six years ago to live the Johnson County dream. But that dream, is now becoming rather scary, as his property taxes shoot through the roof.

"When I got that tax letter, it was pretty shocking," said Wilson.

His property tax valuation soared 16 percent this year. Since he's lived in the home, his mortgage payments have gone up $200 a month now, all because of tax increases.

"We don't have big glamorous jobs that pay large paychecks, so we're going to feel it. I think everybody around here will," Wilson said.

He was even told by a city worker he should just sell his house to someone willing to pay the taxes. So it's no surprise that several homes on his block are now listed. While Wilson fears the price spikes will drive families like his out, or prevent others from moving in, the county says that's not an issue right now.

"We haven't seen a decrease in volume of activity in that area. The amount of taxes or value people are paying is really what we're trying to reflect," said Paul Welcome, Johnson County appraiser.

The county appraiser says it's a good problem to have. The average home in Johnson County is now going for $100,000 above the Kansas CIty metro's average ($320,000 in Johnson County versus $220,000 in the surrounding area).

Those higher numbers bolster the ability to pay for county services.

"When you have a property that is listed and within 10 hours it has 15 showings, two offers, and goes over the listing price the agent put on that property, that's an indication people want to live here and are willing to immediately make a decision that this is the house for them," said Welcome.

Homeowners can still appeal their property valuation through March 28. Last year, 5,000 appeals were filed and about half of homeowners got their bill reduced. Final tax bills will be issued in November.

A community town hall with the Johnson County appraiser is planned for Monday, March 12. It begins at 8 a.m. at the Roeland Park Community Center.