August 14, 2009 -- A Jackson County Circuit Court judge today denied the 11 school districts that have filed suit against Jackson County a temporary restraining order. The judge's ruling "appears to reject" the claims the districts' superintendents and other administrators have made about the County assessment procedures inaccurately resulting in the properties being undervalued, pointed out attorney Charlene Wright of Lathrop & Gage, which is representing Jackson County in this case.
"The court's ruling is good news for the approximately 217,000 homeowners of Jackson County, who are now less likely to face an unconstitutional tax increase to the tune of $54 million," Wright said. "If the school districts continue to pursue this lawsuit, Jackson County will continue to fight on behalf of the taxpayers of our County."
Attorney Charlene Wright responds to the court's ruling during a news conference.
The restraining order the superintendents sought, Wright explained, would have "tossed out" the 2009 property value reassessments homeowners received this year and reverted back to the 2008 reassessments.
"Most homeowners saw their property values be lowered with this year's reassessment," said Brian Johnson of the Jackson County Assessment Department. "We are legally bound and morally obligated to base assessments on real-world market trends. It's no secret property values have dropped nationwide, and our county has been no exception. The lower property value notices taxpayers received from the Assessment Department are reflective of that fact.
"The assessment process we used this year is no different than the process we've used in previous years, and the Missouri State Tax Commission has reviewed and approved our process. The districts had not in previous years, when assessments were higher, challenged the process we use or the accuracy of our results."
• Jackson County began meeting with local school districts July 2, 2008, to inform them that assessments were expected to be down by as much as 10% in 2009. The Assessment Department met with the districts on at least four separate occasions.
• Jackson County residential assessments were down 5.86%. It should be noted that over the same period other sources of tax revenue were down more significantly:
> 2009 individual personal property values are down 8.71% when compared to 2008.
> In the first 6 months of 2009 sales tax revenue is down 6.7% compared to 2008.
> Total residential sales are projected to be down 27.1% in 2009, compared to 2008. Total sales in 2008 were 17,418, while total sales for 2009 are projected to 12,700.
• The Jackson County Board of Equalization hears appeals from property owners claiming their property values were assessed too high. In 2009 the number of appeals filed to the BOE was up 59.9% compared to 2007, the last year values were reassessed.
• The number of residential building permits is projected to be down 28.6% in 2009 compared to 2008.
• There were 23,595 foreclosure sales in Jackson County from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008.