Jackson County legislature declines vote on tax cut, calling it ‘slap in the face’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Frustrations continue to boil over Jackson County's property valuations.

On Monday, legislators refused to pass a small tax relief measure proposed by County Executive Frank White.

White was under fire Monday by the Jackson County Legislature. Legislators balked at his proposal to trim $3 million in taxes on the heels of what many have called a disastrous tax assessment process.

"For three months someone could've said, 'Hey we've got a problem here. We need to fix it.' So now we come up with substitution that you're going to save $2.34 on $10,000. That to me -- you're slapping people in the face," said Theresa Galvin, Jackson County legislature chair.

White insists the idea for the tax cut was entirely separate from controversy over sky-high property valuations.

"It had nothing to do with the property assessment. It was something we could do from a county standpoint to roll back our taxes. We put money in each taxpayer's pocket, even though it's not a bunch of money, but $3 million back into the community," White said.

The county executive and county counselor both insist that, by law, White simply cannot change valuations, which is what legislators and taxpayers have been demanding.

"If the assessment department thought there were changes to be made before they put it out, then yes, they could've done that at that time. But that's not what we were dealing with. When we got it, the numbers and assessments and everything had already been out," said Jackson County Counselor Bryan Covinksy.

And they say now, it's too late to make any changes. But the legislature still opted to take a symbolic vote.

"We ask the administration again taxes be rolled back to 2018 and use the next few years to find out where data flaws were and to fix those," said legislator Dan Tarwater.

It's clear from the executive's position that can't and won't happen, which is leaving taxpayers still frustrated and fed up.

"I know you all are tired. We're tired. What can we do to settle this? What can Frank White do--whoever can do-- to make this right for Kansas City? We're better than that," a taxpayer said.

White said the assessment department continues to work behind the scenes, looking at neighborhood concerns and making recommendations to the Board of Equalization, which ultimately could change some valuations that could be "out of whack."

In the future, he's hoping the state might consider changes to give local authorities more leeway in the process.

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