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Assessor closes property tax rolls, appeals pending

By Kyle Barnett -   Sep 12, 2013

After being open for the required 15-day viewing period, the St. Charles Parish property tax assessment rolls officially closed today.

The viewing period allowed those in the parish to see in person the individual valuations for all of the assessed property in the parish.

Many who visited the office were there in response to St. Charles Parish Assessor Tab Troxler taking an unprecedented step in lowering property assessment rates by as much as 30 percent. Troxler made his move due to a virtually non-existent real estate market in parts of the parish that are expected to be negatively impacted by soaring property insurance rates under the Biggert-Waters Act.

Troxler said throughout the viewing period his office extended their hours and saw a steady stream of visitors.

“We’ve had a steady flow, a lot of good questions and a number of phone calls. Obviously a lot of activity is being generated by the flood insurance controversy,” he said.

Some in the parish have argued that their property value is now zero with the introduction of the Biggert-Waters Act provisions set to begin on Oct. 1. Although committees in both houses of Congress have passed laws that would stay the provisions of the Biggert-Waters Act for a year, and other drives are under way to repeal it entirely, for now the law stands and some property owners could be paying up to $15,000 in annual flood insurance within the next four years.

“We’re looking at the hope that some legislation will get passed to give some peace of mind,” Troxler said. “It is unfortunate that Congress can’t see that this is an unfortunate policy.”

Troxler said he understands property owners who claim that their properties are worthless due to flood insurance premiums that may be higher than their mortgage payments within a few years.

“It’s hard to not side with them. There is a case to be made there,” he said. “My office would indicate there is still value in the area. It may have been decreased, but there is still value.”

Although Troxler and the Assessor’s Office employees spoke with concerned property owners, some are still anticipated to appeal their property rates to the St. Charles Parish Council.

The appeals session will be held in front of the Parish Council on Oct. 7, which is only eight days after the Sept. 30 deadline to file an appeal and six days following the implementation of the first parts of the Biggert-Waters Act on Oct. 1.

Troxler said the timing is bad for reassessments because residents will not know how inflated property taxes will affect their property values until they are enacted.

“The timing can be a concern because residents or investors may be getting a bill by the end of this year and there will be little we can do because we will have certified the roll and the appeal period will have passed,” he said.

If flood insurance rates do rise and negatively impact real estate transactions further, Troxler said he will take that into account for a potential reassessment in 2014. In the meantime, he said he believes his office has done all they can for this year.

“At the end of the day we’ve done a fair amount of research on this and I think my staff and I came to the fairest decision. I feel like we gave them something that is substantial but also reflects that the market is not left out,” Troxler said.

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