“Property values have gone through the roof.” Jackson County discusses property taxes

When property values go up, the taxing authority must reduce the levy amount in order to achieve “revenue neutrality.”

By Don Bradley

Jackson County officials are hoping to avoid the long lines and frustration of last tax season.

On Monday, Gail McCann Beatty, the county’s assessment director, said the department struggled last year with too few workers and an antiquated computer system. The system crashed and people in line often faced waits as long as three hours. Some properties hadn’t been assessed since 2005.

“We recognize that mistakes were made,” she said.

Improvements have been made, she said. Hiring is up and as many as 60 workers are already conducting exterior assessments of the county’s 300,000 properties. The issue for property owners this year might be the tax bill itself.

“Property values have gone through the roof,” McCann Beatty said.

The department is working with numbers that show the value of homes increased on average by 30 percent across Missouri from the previous assessment year. But that doesn’t mean the tax bill goes up that much, said Aaron Gilbertie, account director for the assessor’s office.

He explained that the assessor’s office is only responsible for determining a property’s value. The taxing authority, such as school districts, water districts, fire districts and libraries, set the actual levy. When property values go up, he said, the taxing authority must reduce the levy amount in order to achieve “revenue neutrality.”

The real estate market has cooled some, but the assessment is based on values as of Jan. 1, 2023. According to Gilbertie, The Heartland MLS says Jackson County has not seen a drop in housing prices.

“Some people think I want to raise values so we can raise more taxes,” McCann Beatty said. “But I know what’s going on when eggs are seven dollars a dozen. We want people to pay an equitable amount.”

There is good news.

Last year, the chip shortage caused high personal property bills for vehicles. This year, those values are down 5-7 percent.

McCann Beatty encourages everyone to attend one of the four community meetings planned to inform the public about tax assessment and how to get free help with the appeal process.

Those are:

  • March 22, 5:30-7 p.m. Mid-Continent Public Library, 1000 N.E. Colburn Rd., Lee’s Summit.
  • March 27, 5:30-7 p.m., Morningstar Youth and Family Life Center, 2525 E. 27th St., Kansas City.
  • March 29, 5:30-7 p.m., Fleming Meeting Hall, 21906 S.W. Woods Chapel Rd., Blue Springs
  • April 5, 5:30-7 p.m., Mid-Continent Library, 317 W. 24 Highway, Independence. 

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