Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jackson County Assessment Appeals Process


By Mary Wilson
Last week, Jackson County Director of Assessment Curtis Koons, along with staff members, spoke to the audience of a special meeting coordinated by the Southern Communities Coalition to answer questions in regards to the assessment notices received within the last few weeks by those living within county limits. Every two years, the county is mandated to perform assessments to its personal properties (homes and businesses) and real estate properties (commercial).
According to Koons, because of the size of Jackson County, the assessors measure and update one-third of the county every two years. Each property is appraised, and then the assessed value is nineteen percent of that appraised value. The result of this process is to set the assessed valuation of property in Jackson County. Such assessed valuation and levies set by Jackson County and other tax authorities, like cities and school districts, are used to calculate the property taxes that fund those taxing authorities.

“We’ve had a lot of funding cuts from the state, but we’ve still tried to maintain that plan,” said Koons. “This particular reassessment cycle, we’ve done a large chunk of the Kansas City School District, and all of Center School District. We did Grandview School District, then what I call the Hickman/Ruskin combo.”

Other areas saw inconsistencies in assessment values, but the bulk of the conflicts were in South Kansas City and Grandview. According to Koons, 18,000 parcels of this reassessment group of 70,000 were incorrect.

“It didn’t seem to make sense,” said Koons. “It’s my fault that we rolled these values out when we did. We’re short staffed and on a time frame, but ultimately it falls on me to identify that there is a problem and try to figure out what the problem is and that’s the stage we’re at right now.”

The comparable houses that were used in the southern part of Jackson County were low, and the office was not receiving much, if anything, with which to compare the property values.

“We’re taking a second look at these,” said Koons. “Some of you probably got a letter from us saying we’re taking a second look. A bulk of them we sent out were to people who were above a fifteen percent increase.”

Koons said that the values in certain neighborhoods can still be changed, as it is still fairly early in the process. Homeowners have until June 14 to file an informal appeal, either online or over the phone.

“If these issues start coming up and we can identify what the problem is,” said Koons, “and if you still don’t agree, the most important thing is you have to have your appeal process. We can’t cut you short on an appeal process at all.”

If you don’t agree, Koons encourages homeowners to file an appeal by calling (816) 881-4601 during regular business hours or by filing such an informal appeal online at jacksongov.org/appeal. Those homeowners who received the letter stating that their properties were being reassessed will then have thirty days to file an appeal of that value as well.

The appeal process includes divulging information that the assessors would not be able to see from the curb, such as foundation issues or a refinance appraisal.
“Those things are helpful to us to really help you get to the bottom line of where you really need to be, and what’s fair,” said Koons. “We want to be fair and equitable this entire process.”

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