Archive for Kansas City Kansas

72 percent of properties see increases in valuations in Wyandotte County

Wyandotte County Appraiser Kathy Briney met with Fairfax business owners and representatives Thursday in a meeting sponsored by the Fairfax Industrial Association. (Photo from the Fairfax Industrial Association)

by Mary Rupert

About 72 percent of properties in Wyandotte County had increases in their valuations this year, leading some businesses and residents to say that they are planning to appeal.

Reports are that some individual businesses in Fairfax had an increase of 50 percent and 70 percent in their real estate valuations. Valuation notices were sent out March 5.

Wyandotte County Appraiser Kathy Briney met with Fairfax business owners and representatives Thursday, in an event sponsored by the Fairfax Industrial Association.

“We don’t create value, people in the marketplace create value,” Briney said on Friday. It is people’s transactions that create the values of property here.

“It’s our legal responsibility to analyze the transactions and apply it to properties,” she said. “That’s our job, I know it’s not a very popular one. The big message is, if they do have questions, I’m all about communication and having people come in and talk with us.”

More demand than supply now in the market

About 72 percent of properties of all types in Wyandotte County saw an increase in valuations this year, Briney said.

For residential properties, there is more demand than supply now in the market, causing prices in the market to increase. This leads to sales with higher prices, which in turn leads to higher valuations of residential properties.

Briney said the median increase for residential properties here was a little over 6 percent.

For commercial properties, countywide there was a median increase of about 8 percent, Briney said. Some areas saw larger increases depending on the market, their conditions and specific neighborhoods, she added.

Median commercial value changes by UG district (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

Prosperity leads to higher valuations

Median residential value change by UG district (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

“The market is the big indicator,” Briney said in answer to a question on why property values increased. “We’ve come out of a recession.”

For residential properties, there is currently a supply-and-demand issue, she said. It’s a seller’s market, she said. When there aren’t enough homes available to match the demand, the price of homes often goes up.

According to Briney, market reports recently showed that the supply of homes on the market in Wyandotte County is 30 percent lower than the previous year. In some areas of the county, people are buying homes for more than the asking prices because buyers are competing to get a property, she said.

Briney said her office has to follow mandates of the state law and also directives from the Kansas Department of Revenue, Division of Property Valuation. The state requires the local appraiser’s office to appraise properties within 10 percent of market value, she said.

While Wyandotte County was in compliance on the residential side, it was not in compliance of this 10 percent rule on the commercial side, she said. The oversight agency, the Kansas Department of Revenue, conducts annual audits to make sure they meet the mass appraisal and state mandates. The state also checks for uniformity.

The appraiser’s office receives all the sales reports of property in Wyandotte County, and three years are analyzed.

“Our task is to try to follow these market trends and be within 10 percent of market value,” Briney said.

Commercial property in Wyandotte County has been out of compliance of the 10 percent market value for some years, she said. What changed recently is a law that was passed in July 2016 that holds the property valuation division accountable as well as the county to get commercial properties back in compliance, she said.

“We want to get back in compliance,” she said. “What I’m tasked with is following the law.”

What effect will higher valuations have on local businesses?

Real estate appraised values in the Fairfax district (Chart from the Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

In the Fairfax industrial district, valuations went up 50 percent and more on some, but not all, properties.

John Latenser, who is with Neff Packaging, a Fairfax business, and is president of the Fairfax Industrial Association, said the association scheduled the Thursday meeting with the appraiser and business owners after they heard about substantial property valuation increases. About 31 persons attended the meeting.

Latenser said Briney and the appraiser’s office have been very open, very willing to talk to the business owners and encourage them to use the informal appeal process available to them. He said he understood that the commercial properties throughout the county were not in compliance and they had to bring the appraiser’s office up to current standards.

In answer to a question, Latenser said it would be hard to say if the Fairfax district would lose businesses as a result of the valuations. There has been an effort by the UG to work to reduce high taxes, he said. The effect of higher valuations may not be that businesses leave the city, but it might be an impediment to recruiting new businesses to locate in the Fairfax area, he said.

Latenser said it is likely that there will be more valuation appeals this year.

Why were some businesses’ valuations increased 50 and 70 percent?

Warehouse survey by the property valuation division (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

This past fall, the property valuation division hired independent limited appraisers on random samples of property types they deemed were needed, Briney said. One was warehouses and another was downtown rows, where sometimes retail multi-use properties are located next to each other.

A random sample done throughout the county compared values for warehouses, she said. When the values from the independent fee appraisals on warehouses were compared to the assigned values, it came in at about half, or 50 percent value, she said. What is happening in the marketplace currently is a bigger demand for warehouse space.

“Warehouse properties are a very hot commodity right now,” Briney said. The demand on the market has increased. The appraisers’ office is tasked with researching, conducting analysis and it has quite a few sales that are used in this process, she added.

In Fairfax alone, values were at least 40 percent low, she said. Some of these values were increased last year, “but it was like the market just swallowed it up,” as sales prices for warehouse property were rising, she said.

“What we’re trying to do is come back into compliance, and trying to make our model more reflective of the market,” she said.

Why weren’t valuations increased a little at a time instead of all at once on the 50 percent and greater increases?

Valuation increases were not phased in gradually over a number of years on the big increases of 50 percent or greater, not allowing property owners some time to adjust to them.

“I can’t do that,” Briney said. That was not allowed by the law. The property valuations are supposed to be between 90 and 100 percent of the market value, she said. If she knowingly made changes outside this range, it could be a misdemeanor.

Briney said only some properties were affected by 50 percent. She said she understands the concerns of property owners.

At her meeting with Fairfax business owners on Thursday, she said she explained appeal processes.

“We welcome people to come in and talk to us,” she said. For example, if the property owner knows the information is not correct, he or she should come into the office and let them know. There are informal appeal processes and formal appeals.

Property owners in Wyandotte County have until April 4 to file an informal appeal of their valuations, she said. There will be a meeting scheduled to go over property information, and those appealing can bring information with them that might make a difference in the valuation.

If the property owner loses an appeal at the local level, he or she can appeal; there is a process that goes to the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals.

Resident plans to appeal her home valuation increase of $10,000

2018 residential median value changes. This chart shows the Northeast area with a 7.23 percent change; the Downtown – Central area with a 10 percent change, where the Strawberry Hill area experienced residential and commercial revitalization in 2017; the Argentine – Armourdale area with a 6 percent change; KU Med area with an 8.6 percent change with commercial and residential growth; the Bethel – Welborn area with a 6 percent change; the Turner area with a 3 percent change; the Victory-Nearman area with a 4 percent change; the Stony Point area with a 6 percent change; the Piper area with a 6.9 percent change; the Edwardsville area with a 4 percent change; and the Bonner Springs area with a 3.9 percent change. (Chart from Wyandotte County appraiser’s office)

In the Welborn area of Kansas City, Kansas, Lou Braswell said she plans to appeal the valuation on her home.

“After the shock wore off, I tried to realize why it went up $10,000,” Braswell said about her home valuation. Her three-bedroom home was built in the 1960s. She was speaking as an individual only and not in her capacity with a community organization.

Braswell said she didn’t think houses were much in demand in her particular neighborhood, citing four houses that were up for sale for a year and a half and didn’t sell, and some didn’t even have any showings.

She said she has talked with a lot of individuals whose home valuations have gone up this year.

“I fought it last year and I did win,” Braswell said. After she appealed, her valuation went down $3,000. But now it’s back up again and she plans to appeal again.

She said she thinks it’s worth the time and trouble to appeal it. Braswell didn’t hire anyone to help her appeal it; she did some research herself.

“I went through the whole neighborhood, took a picture of every house, I evaluated what they were appraised at, and I went with a whole folder,” Braswell said.

There is a Unified Government webpage that gives information about each property, when the house was built, how many rooms it has, square footage and what the taxes have been for 10 to 15 years, she said. (It is at She used this information in a comparison when she made her presentation to the appraiser’s office on lowering the valuation.

Last year, she presented information that other properties around her were valued less than hers. This year, though, those other properties are all up in valuation, she said.

This year she said she plans to present information that other properties for sale in her area have not sold, to show there is not a big market demand in her neighborhood.

“If you’re not happy with your appraisal, appeal it, the only thing you can lose is a half-hour of your time,” Braswell said.

Information available on appeal process

Information is available on the appeal process and on other aspects of the appraisal process on the appraiser’s web page at

According to information from the UG, residents who are appealing their valuations can include another recent appraisal of the property, photos that show the condition of the property, information about other properties that are similar to the one in question, and other information the property owner feels is relevant.

Instructions for the appeal process, and a form for appealing, also are on the reverse side of the valuation notices that have been sent to residents and businesses. The appraiser’s office is located at the courthouse annex at 8200 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, and property owners may call it at 913-573-8400.

Frequently asked questions page on the appraiser’s website:


Gacke 2-hitter not enough to get KCKCC sweep at Highland

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College got another pitching gem from Cole Gacke Thursday but it wasn’t enough to sweep a doubleheader at Highland.

Gacke allowed just two hits in a 12-1 win in a 6-inning opener but Highland tied the nightcap with three runs in the eighth inning and then won it with a run in the bottom of the 10th 10-9.

The two teams will close out their four-game series at KCKCC Saturday at 1 p.m. The split left the Blue Devils (15-12) tied with Johnson County for fifth place in the Jayhawk Conference at 7-7, a game behind both Neosho County and Allen County (8-6).

A 6-1 sophomore from Liberty North, Gacke struck out nine in running his season’s record to 4-1. Only four Scotties reached base against Gacke with the lone run scoring on his only walk, a wild pitch and a single in the fourth inning.

The Blue Devils backed him with 15 hits, 10 for extra base hits including nine doubles. Kevin Santiago led with a home run and two doubles; Adam North and Gavin Gifford each doubled twice; Brigham Mooney and Brandon Green doubled and singled; and Brandon Still doubled.

KCKCC jumped in front 1-0 in the first on a single by Mooney and then scored four more runs in the third. After a walk and Mooney double, Santiago scored both with a double and two more scored on a Green sacrifice fly and North’s two-out single.

The Blue Devils boosted their lead to 7-1 in the sixth on a single by Combs, double by Green and sacrifice flies by Gifford and Bradley. Santiago’s home run triggered a 5-run sixth inning that included doubles by Still, Gifford and North and singles by Green and James Bradley.

Wildness and errors, two season-long nemesis, foiled the Blue Devils in the 10-9 nightcap loss. Five of Highland’s six runs in the second inning were unearned because of two errors; two walks and two hit batsman figured prominently in the Scotties’ game-tying 3-run eighth; and the game-winning run was put on base by a walk.

The Blue Devils built a 9-6 lead on the strength of home runs from Jared Goodfellow and Santiago, his second of the day. Both had a pair of hits as did Still.

KCKCC also got a strong starting performance from freshman Orlando Oritz, who struck out a career high 12 in just six innings including eight of 10 Scotties in one stretch. However, he was also the victim of Highland’s 6-run second inning that included three hits, two walks and two costly errors that made five of the runs unearned.

The Blue Devils jumped in front 1-0 in the first on singles by Josh Schumacher and Mooney and a Santiago sacrifice fly and made it 3-0 in the second on a walk and Goodfellow’s 2-run home run only to fall behind 6-3. KCKCC started its comeback in the fifth, scoring a run on a single by Santiago and Still sacrifice fly and then went ahead with four runs in the seventh.

After a single by Goodfellow and a walk, Santiago put KCKCC ahead 7-6 with a 3-run home run. The Blue Devils added the fourth run in the inning on singles by Still and Green and added another in the eighth on an error, wild pitch and Mooney’s squeeze bunt.

Trailing 9-6 in the eighth, Highland loaded the bases against Allan Brown with one out on a walk, single and hit batsman and all scored against reliever Julian Rivera on a single, hit batsman and walk, the last one with two out.

Gunner Vestal pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the ninth but gave up a pair of one-out walks and back-to-back singles in the 10th, the last the game-winner by Shane Drolet. It was his third hit of the game.


Former Schlitterbahn employee and corporation indicted in connection with waterslide death

A former Schlitterbahn employee has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a waterslide death at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, in August 2016. (Wyandotte Daily file photo)

A Wyandotte County grand jury has indicted one person and one corporation on charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a 10-year-old boy in August 2016 who was riding the Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, according to a statement from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

The indictment includes charges of involuntary manslaughter against Schlitterbahn Waterpark of Kansas City, Kansas, and against Tyler Austin Miles, a former director of operations at the waterpark.

A 10-year-old boy who was the son of a state legislator died when he was riding a raft on the Verruckt waterslide in 2016. As his raft went into the air, it struck a pole with nets attached to it, and the boy was decapitated.

The waterslide at the time was called the tallest in the world. Since the incident, the waterslide has been shut down.

The two defendants also were indicted in connection with injuries sustained by 13 other persons, including four other minors, while riding the waterslide, according to the attorney general’s statement.

Those charges include aggravated battery and aggravated endangering a child. In addition, Miles was indicted on two counts of interference with law enforcement, and Schlitterbahn was indicted on one count of interference with law enforcement.

The indictment was unsealed today by Judge Robert Burns in Wyandotte County District Court.

Miles turned himself in to the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office this morning. At a first appearance this afternoon, the defense waived formal reading of the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty. The defense filed a motion to reduce bond which was argued and denied.

Bond has been set at $50,000 cash or professional surety. A jury trial date has been set for 9 a.m. Sept. 10. A status conference has been set for 2 p.m. April 25.

The charges will be prosecuted by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, which assumed responsibility for the case in December 2016 at the request of the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office.

Charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty, according to the attorney general’s office. The attorney general’s office is bound by the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 3.6 (trial publicity) and Rule 3.8 (special responsibilities of a prosecutor), according to their statement.

Attorney General Schmidt said the indictment follows a 19-month investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies including the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Attorney General’s Office and Comal County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office.

Schlitterbahn’s corporate offices released an updated statement today, from spokeswoman Winter Prosapio, after they had a chance to review the official indictment document:

“We’ve reviewed the indictment against Schlitterbahn Kansas City and Tyler Miles and we plan on contesting the allegations. Since the date of the incident we have worked closely with law enforcement; at no time have we withheld evidence; at no time have we altered evidence. The indictment uses quoted statements from a reality TV show that was scripted for dramatic effect that in no way reflects the design and construction of the ride.

“The safety of our Schlitterbahn guests and employees has been at the forefront of our culture throughout our 40 years of operations. Many of us rode Verruckt regularly, as did our children and grandchildren. We have faith in the justice system and are confident that when we finally have an opportunity to defend ourselves, it will be clear that this was an accident. We stand by our team and will fight these charges.”

A Wyandotte County Jail listing showed a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the case.

An indictment was issued in connection with the death of a boy at the Schlitterbahn waterpark in 2016.