KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A number of issues dealing with property assessments were on Jackson County’s Budget Committee and full County Legislature meetings Monday.
One issue dealt with Missouri Senate Bill 190 and whether it can be implemented this year. The bill, which has been signed into law, freezes property taxes for seniors 62 and older.
Republican County Legislator Sean Smith proposed an ordinance that was discussed Monday.
There was another ordinance sponsored by Democrats DaRon McGee, Manny Abarca, Megan Marshall, Donna Peyton and Vanessa Huskey.
“The key difference is first, is in when mine would go into effect,” Smith said. “I specifically say mine is in effect in 2023.”
McGee, Abarca, Marshall, Peyton and Huskey’s legislation would not implement the freeze for seniors until the 2024 tax season.
Smith’s legislation advanced to the full county legislature Monday. It failed on an 8-1 vote, though, with Smith being the only one in favor of it.
The other ordinance sponsored by five other legislators was held in committee.
Also Monday, County Executive Frank White attended the Budget Committee meeting and the County Legislature meeting. He took questions from reporters on the property assessment issue, where leaders say the average person’s property went up by 30% in assessed value from 2022 to 2023.
“You know, I think seniors need a break,” White said when asked whether he’d support either one of these pieces of legislation. “I think everybody’s in favor of that. I think what we need to figure out now is, which is the best way to do it. When the state sent it out, they sent it out with no guidelines, and everyone’s left with trying to figure out the best way to do it.”
Democratic Legislator Jalen Anderson wasn’t one of the sponsors of either ordinance, but he would not support the one proposed by Smith.
“The fact of the matter is they should have known better not to put this out and to say that this could be enacted now when they knew they did not have the staff,” Anderson said.
“They knew they did not have the technology to do this, but what they intended to do for politics was they went around the entire county, and they focused on the idea that we could get this passed today. ‘We shouldn’t wait. Just keep going.'”
At the beginning of the budget committee meeting, residents spoke out against White, who they said has been absent for the most part in this property assessment issue.
“Well, it’s the first time you’ve come to me and asked me,” White said when asked why this is the first time he’s taken questions from reporters about this. “I’m just kidding. No, I’m always available to talk to reporters. I’ve talked to reporters a few times. We’ve talked before, so you just haven’t been here.”
At the full legislature meeting, Director of Assessment Gail McCann Beatty appeared in front of county lawmakers. She said she’s aware of an issue where 550 Jackson County properties were all assessed at the same value.
“Approximately 200 of those were decreases,” McCann Beatty said to the legislature in regard to those assessments.
“Those have been presented to the board and have been approved by the board already. Those property owners will get new notifications and the appeals process will open back up for them for 30 days if they feel that they do need to file an appeal in relation to those.”
McCann Beatty also said her department’s continuing to review 150 of those because those assessments would be an increase, and those residents will be able to file an appeal, too.
“These things happen. As I mentioned, this is not a perfect process contrary to popular belief,” she continued. “This was not a Tyler issue. This was an issue that was solely my fault and one of the challenges that we have when we’re trying to maintain two separate systems that don’t talk to each other.”
McCann Beatty was with a Tyler Technologies representative during the discussion. Neither McCann Beatty nor the representative would speak to reporters after the meeting. White was asked whether hiring Tyler was a mistake, though.
“I can’t say it was a mistake. When we hired them, at that time, they were the best in the country for mass appraisals,” he said. “I think it was a legitimate hire. I think that everything was done in good faith, and we just have to make sure that all our taxpayers are taken care of.”