St. Charles Herald-Guide

Board votes to lower school tax rates

Kyle Barnett - August 17, 2012

The St. Charles Parish School Board voted to slightly decrease property tax millages on parish residents.

The decrease in the millage rate will keep most property ownerís tax rates steady. Due to variables in property assessment, the millage rate decrease will affect each taxpayer differently. However, the move by the School Board will save an overall estimated $600,000 for the parishís homeowners, according to Jim Melohn, chief financial and administrative officer for the school district.

Melohn said had the board decided to keep the millage rates at last yearís level it would have amounted to an estimated tax increase of about $3 per every $100,000 assessed on a homestead-exempt household per year. The reduction means the owner of a $150,000 homestead-exempt home that is reassessed for the same amount this year would pay about $4.60 less.

"Itís a decrease in the rates. Iím hesitant to say it is a property tax decrease because itís a reassessment year," Melohn said. "Since itís a reassessment year, if a personís assessed value increased, even though our rates have decreased, that individual owner could pay more."

Every four years the assessorís office reassesses property values and millage rates applied to those new assessments yield different tax rates. After the reassessment, a legislative auditor calculates what the needed millage rate is to maintain the prior yearís property tax revenue.

"The government, if they so choose, can roll it back up to the prior year and increase their revenue and I think several of the local ones did that," Melohn said. "Our board chose not to do that. They chose to go ahead and go with the reduced rates."

In contrast to the assessment procedure for homeowners, industry property is reassessed on a yearly basis and makes up for the bulk of the parishís property tax base.

"The homeowners are actually only roughly 12 percent of the total assessed value," Melohn said. "Most of that revenue comes from industry."