Hot Tax Mess

County politics can be an adventure to say the least.

One look at the hot mess that’s taken place across the river in Clay County over the last few years tells that story all too well.

Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte has continued to fight the good fight for Clay County taxpayers and continues to be met with corrupted opposition from Commissioners Ridgeway and Owen.

This critically-thinking Newsdog wonders why they, the aforementioned Ridgeway and Owen, continue to torpedo their own boat, especially during election season.

Not content to sit on the sidelines, however, it’s almost as if, when the county crazy train gauntlet got thrown down, Jackson County laughed and said, “hold my beer!”

Hot mess number one—property tax assessments. After assessments went out in July, property owners were shell-shocked, to say the least, with assessed values skyrocketing through the roof.

The Dog spoke with one individual who was slapped with 1,700-1,900% increases on his properties.

Those two were for unimproved parcels near 43rd street and Flora Avenue, not exactly in the city’s well-heeled zip codes.

The Dog editorialized about the debacle earlier this summer but has been eclipsed, and rightfully so, by KCTV5 journalist Angie Ricono, who has blown the lid off the scandal.

Her latest report exposes thousands of emails between the high-dollar consultant and the County Assessor who, by the way, thinks the Jackson County taxpayers saddled with a tax bill the size of Montana should just get a loan or move out of the property. Seriously?

Now, hot tax mess number two— the recent independent audit of the county’s Community Backed Anti-Crime Tax (COMBAT). The results were startling, but not unexpected.

COMBAT has been turned into a slush fund for Jackson County and the recent audit shows that still to be the case.

Apparently, shelling out over $2 million for new jail doors falls under the purview of what a Community Backed Anti-Crime Tax should pay for.

Additionally, County Executive Frank White’s assistant got his county-issued Chevy truck paid for out of COMBAT funds.

Let’s not forget that MLK celebration that funneled roughly $60,000 to line the pockets of the SCLC last spring, too!

Little bit outside the COMBAT mission statement there Mr. Executive, but hey, what’s a little corruption among friends anyway.

Being the purist in the room, this Dog remembers when COMBAT funded such worthy programs as CAT and CAN police officers for Old Northeast Incorporated, the now defunct Community Development Corporation that partnered with Northeast neighborhoods on a variety of development and anti-crime projects.

The Northeast Mobile Crime Watch program, a program that was a national model for community backed anti-crime efforts and was also funded partially by COMBAT.

The drop in crime in ONE Inc. neighborhoods was measurable and appreciated by area residents whose quality of life increased drastically due to the drop in crime.

This Dog thinks it’s all about integrity in oversight, something sorely lacking in government these days.

When high-level county employees abuse the taxpayers and their hard-earned money the way Jackson and Clay Counties have recently, it’s time for systematic change starting at the top.

Note to the County Executive and the County Assessor: We’re not your serfs, you work for us, not the other way around. We’re watching.

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