Proposed government tax would raise taxes $1.5 million

HOME VALUES SOAR. 112 Cottage Dr. Davis III Plantation in Luling: 1993 - custom-built on golf-course lot for $168,000. 2003 - sold for $232,000. 2007 - sold for $341,000.

The districts controlled by parish government could collect $1.5 million more dollars from taxpayers if proposed 2007 property tax rates being considered at the Aug. 20 council meeting are approved, Parish Assessor Rock Gisclair told the Herald-Guide.“I can almost guarantee it will be $1.5 million — probably more,” Gisclair said, adding that the estimate is conservative.

The $1.5 million difference comes from an increase in property values over last year and is based on the 27.18 millage rate proposed by parish president Albert Laque.

This is the increase residential, business and industry taxpayers will pay for government-controlled districts only (see table).

The public is invited to comment before the ordinance levying the taxes is voted on at the Monday night council meeting that begins at 6 p.m. at the parish courthouse in Hahnville.

Parish president Albert Laque’s administration introduced the ordinance proposing a 27.18 millage rate at the Aug. 3 council meeting.

“This is the 6th consecutive year that I have proposed millage rate reductions,’ Laque said. His proposal, which reduces the tax rate by .10 mill, doesn’t offset increased property values.

At the Aug.3 meeting, parish-president candidate Chris Tregre asked the Laque administration to reconsider the millage to help residents and businesses burdened from the Katrina fallout “I assure you, had the public known how much a tax they passed a few years ago would be costing them now, they would never have approved it,” Tregre stressed.

The proposed tax collection would bring an estimated total of $23,883,000 million dollars to the parish council treasury for 2007; $1,547,000 million dollars more than 2006, according to figures derived from the parish assessors office.

“Actually we’re levying less taxes than we have for the last few years,” Laque counters, “We need the money – we don’t have enough to go around now. When you talk about $1.5 million, that’s not a lot of money to spread around. Our insurance is higher. Fuel is higher, and our labor costs are way up. We can’t even hire people at what we pay, especially financial positions,” he emphasized.

At issue is the re-assessment of millages this year and next, parish council finance director Lori Toups told the Herald-Guide.

“If a district reduces their millage, that reduction becomes permanent.” she said, adding “Districts don’t have to levy the full millage on taxpayers if they don’t need the money.”

Parish Assessor Rock Gisclair based the amount of tax dollars collected on projected parish property values of $910,550,817 million in 2007. This number is only an estimate since parish assessments weren’t finalized at the time this article was written because the Louisiana Tax commission has not sent the public utilities.

“There’s a lot of money coming into this parish and if we don’t do something about it, we’re going to suffer,” Gisclair cautioned, adding that he has received many complaints from home-owners about the rise in home property taxes.

Property owners see increase in taxes

The increase that taxpayers will see in 2007 is small, but over the last 5 years, especially since the reappraisal of 2004, the tax burden has increased substantially.

Homeowners in the parish have seen their property values soar in the past 10 years (see insert). During the same time period, they have also seen their property taxes skyrocket, since in Louisiana homes are assessed at 10 percent of their market value.

These taxes include millages for all taxing districts in the parish.

A homeowner that paid $1468.75 per year in taxes on a home appraised at $200,000 five years ago could be paying $2643.75 per year, including the homestead exemption, on a home that might now be appraised at $300,000 according to Friloux. That’s $1200 more per year in taxes.


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