LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The city of Lee’s Summit has filed a lawsuit against Jackson County, accusing the county of breaking state law in its property assessments.
“For too long the county and its officials have offered one excuse after another for their failure to correctly assess real property,” Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird said in a statement. “People are over or underpaying. The county still won’t get it right, and Lee’s Summit just can’t wait any longer.”
Jackson County has come under criticism this year after residents saw their property values skyrocket — and then had difficulty filing appeals.
According to the assessor’s office, the average increase this year was 30%, but some owners said their assessments skyrocketed by more than 100%.
The Missouri State Auditor’s Office is also investigating multiple complaints about the county’s assessments process.
Last month, Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick said his office’s whistleblower hotline has received complaints about significantly higher property assessments, not being able to get through the phone line, and software company Tyler Technology making decisions it might not be qualified to make.
But Assessment Director Gail McCann Beatty has previously stated that her department’s role is to place market value on properties, according to state statute, and any property owner that disagrees with that value can appeal.
McCann Beatty is also named in Lee’s Summit’s lawsuit against Jackson County, along with County Executive Frank White.
Lee’s Summit leaders said the county increased property assessments beyond the allowable percentage, failed to notify property owners of increases, failed to perform required property inspections and failed to correctly and timely account for new construction.
The city’s lawsuit cites state law, saying an assessor must physically inspect a residential property before increasing the assessed value by more than 15%.
A drive-by inspection is not sufficient for a physical inspection, state law says. Property owners also have to be notified in writing before a physical inspection, state law says.
Lee’s Summit said it’s asking the court to ensure that Jackson County property assessments are done in compliance with state law.
FOX4 has reached out to Jackson County for comment on the lawsuit.