Plaza’s property tax bargain astounds critics; average KC taxpayer ‘is getting screwed

When Kansas City’s famed Country Club Plaza sold for $660 million last year, the Kansas City School District figured to get a nice boost in its property tax collections.

The sale price was more than five times the Plaza’s value as listed on the Jackson County tax rolls. And while other local property tax recipients, such as city government and the public library, aren’t allowed to cash in big on soaring property values (a 5 percent bump is the limit), the school district has no such restrictions and was eagerly awaiting a windfall possibly worth millions.

But the district will get only about $750,000 more than last year, thanks to forces beyond the school district’s control.

First, the county assessment department low-balled the market value of the Plaza’s 26 properties, setting the total at $375 million rather than anything close to the purchase price. The county has not explained why in any detail.

Then the Plaza’s owners capitalized on the county’s failure to adjust the values of properties that weren’t part of the sale in and around the shopping center. When it was all over, the shopping center was valued for tax purposes at just $145.5 million — less than a fourth of what its current owners paid for it in early 2016.

The upshot: the Plaza’s tax bill will be more than $3 million lighter than it might have been had the county’s original $375 million assessment stuck. While the school district will still benefit from an 18 percent increase in the Plaza’s assessed value over its 2016 value, the outcome was a huge disappointment for the district.


Read more: Kansas City Star

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