Taxation without justification

As the Jackson County Assessors’ statements continue to drop in mailboxes across the county, property owners are getting the shock of their lives upon opening the envelope to find out their property has increased in value, sometimes to the tune of over 500 percent.

The NewsDog’s increases were a little over 285 percent on our St. John property and roughly 36 percent at the homestead in the Scarritt neighborhood.

Apparently we’re supposed to be happy about the taxing level at the house and cheerfully send the county their money with chocolate and roses. Not!

The Dog spoke with a number of folks last week who were just as shocked as we were and plan to appeal the newly arrived at taxation amount.

Word on the street is that the taxing entities, in this case the school districts, all got their lobbyists on the same page and paid a visit to the County Assessor with the message of comeuppance for the taxpayers.

The time has come to pay the piper in return for all the TIF and tax-deferred projects that the City Council is doling out to the bigshot developers and their downtown, 1-2-3-Light projects.

Certainly makes sense to this pooch given KCPS makes up roughly 60 percent of the tax bill. We also find it odd that the amount remains just as high as ever given the dwindling student population of the KCPS.

Twenty years ago, over 75,000 students attended Kansas City Public Schools. Now, that number stands at a little over 12,000, but we certainly don’t see a decrease in our tax amount.

For the record, given this new influx of cash, we’ll certainly be holding the district’s feet to the fire in terms of student performance.

The reassessment also creates a sad new business strategy for those small businesses that continue to operate on a razor-thin margin.

Knowing that delinquent property taxes take roughly five years before a property is auctioned off on the courthouse steps, it certainly bears watching as to who will adopt the strategy of not paying the property taxes for the next four years, and then simply walk away from the property with a bankruptcy filing, leaving yet another vacant property in the urban landscape.

What about grandma and grandpa who have lived in the same house for over sixty years? The new tax bill now forces seniors and those on a fixed income to make hard choices between eating, paying for medications and health care or paying the skyrocketing property taxes.

The Dog learned of a property owner just down the street who, like us here at the House of News, maintains a vacant lot adjacent to their property.

Taxes on that vacant lot soared into the stratosphere from a lowly eight dollars and change to over $200.

This is a vacant lot, mind you. For those new to the game, this is what gentrification looks like in its truest form. Pretty isn’t it?

The Dog is encouraging everyone to fight this unjust taxation. Follow the appeals process and hope for the best.

If you need me, The Dog will be sharing the corner of Independence Avenue and The Paseo with the rest of the transients, hustlers, and panhandlers.

You’ll easily recognize me because my sign will say: PROPERTY TAXES DUE. PLEASE HELP.

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