Urban core groups push to extend property tax assessment appeal deadline

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Westside Neighborhood Association is leading a revolt against higher tax assessments in Jackson County. A coalition of urban core groups across Kansas City hopes to roll back huge assessment hikes.

Leaders are urging anyone who's concerned about higher property value assessments to attend a town hall meeting Friday at 6 p.m. inside the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, located at Linwood Boulevard and Olive Avenue. County officials are invited to attend to explain the appeal process.

The top priority for the coalition of inner-city neighborhood groups is to extend Monday's deadline for appealing property assessments to September 1.
Community organizers say too many low-income homeowners face challenges of transportation, language and record keeping to get their appeals ready in a short time frame.

Those leading the fight say the assessment increases are an orchestrated attempt at gentrification, forcing poor people out of the urban core because they can no longer afford the taxes on their homes.

"The outrageous amount of money that they want from us," said Paul Rojas of the Westside Neighborhood Association. "It’s been said and it’s true: it's black, brown and poor whites. Our only crime we committed is when everybody was leaving we stayed. We want to continue staying. This is a place our fathers founded for our well-being. We want to pass it on to our kids for their well being."

Many are upset over the results of an assessment analysis conducted by Board of Equalization member Preston Smith.

Smith claims more affluent neighborhoods in Jackson County all received a uniform 14.9 percent assessment value increase. The huge hikes of between 50 percent and 1000 percent are concentrated in the urban core, in areas where Smith claims homeowners are least likely and least able to appeal or fight back.

The Westside Neighborhood Association says it will continue to push the county to throw out this year's assessment increases and start over. They want values frozen at last year's levels until a fair and equitable assessment is conducted.

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