Taxes on the rise

Rock Gisclair says property values to increase in ‘08

April 09, 2008 at 9:23 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Property taxes will increase for homeowners and business owners in St. Charles Parish again this year.

“In the last few years, the values of homes and businesses have increased dramatically,” Rock Gisclair, parish assessor, said. “However, the homestead exemption has remained the same since the early 1980’s. Without an increase in the homestead exemption or a lowering of the millage rate, taxes will continue to rise.”

Gisclair says that last year the state assessed the value of parish properties, but this time around the audit is being performed by the parish.

When property values increase, owners pay more in taxes and parish entities collect more money unless they reduce their millage rates.

"That's where the problem comes in, because the various parish agencies have the final decision and they have raised millages for the past 50 years," he said. “The auditor can recommend that the millage be rolled back to keep property bills consistent with last year, but individual taxing districts can decide to raise their millages or keep them the same, which increases property taxes overall."
Gisclair uses this example.

"In 2006, a business owner with 13 businesses in the parish paid $25,000 and the same business owner paid $28,271 in 2007," he said. "That's an increase of over $3,000 and the taxable amount continues to rise with each new assessment."
Gisclair says the assessor doesn't and can't increase or lower property taxes.

"The assessor has the legal responsibility to discover your property value as it exists and appraise it accordingly," he said. "Buyers and sellers make the value by their transactions in the real estate market."

For example, Gisclair says when someone buys a home, a business or an industry, they decide the value.
"The voters determine all proposals to raise money for St. Charles Parish taxing districts, such as schools, hospitals, law enforcement, fire protection  and roads," he said. "Voters determine whether or not millage rates are raised or lowered."

Gisclair says that assessed property value times the millage  rates equals property tax.
Gisclair says that means property taxes will continue to increase as the value of property increases unless millage rates are lowered.

"Fairness of the property tax depends on how well it is administered," he said. "Granted the property tax system isn't perfect, but I've faithfully tried to be fair and impartial in the administration of my duties."

Homes get assessed every four years while small businesses and plants are assessed annually. A house in St. Charles Parish assessed at $340,000 cost the owner $3,112 in property taxes in 2007. That amount will increase again, according to Gisclair.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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