NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans City Council could ask state lawmakers for help dealing with property assessments in the future. Council members are hoping to protect property owners from big hikes in values.
The move comes as the city closes the window on the latest round of assessments that increased some property values by double, triple or more. The deadline to appeal assessments in person has already passed. The deadline to appeal on-line is today, August 22.
The council passed a resolution encouraging state lawmakers to consider adding a constitutional amendment to offer protections from future spikes in property values. If it comes to pass, voters would have the final say.
The resolution calls for the city to increase property assessments every year instead of every four as currently required. But the resolution also says the increases would be more reasonable and announced years in advance with time for property owners to appeal. The resolution also calls for the council to have the power to increase mileage rates as needed to pay the city’s bills. Lawmakers is Baton Rouge would have to pass the plan as an amendment to the state constitution, and then it would be placed on the ballot for voters.
The resolution is included in the gallery at the bottom of this article.
If the past is any indicator, voters seem to have a sympathetic ear for the protections. During the November 2018 elections, they passed an amendment that would require increases of more than 50% to be implemented over a four year period. The amendment passed with a 57% approval from voters. But the new amendment only helps people with properties covered by their homestead exemption.
Council Vice President Jason Williams says that there are a number of things that the council would like lawmakers to consider. He says ideas are in the early stages but could include creating new criteria and limits on how property values are determined. Williams says that he would also like to see larger nonprofits in the city pay some taxes to the city since they receive city services like police and fire protection.
"They rely on the fire department. They rely on the police department," Williams told WGNO. "I’m talking about big universities, not the small nonprofits with a couple other people working there. But the nonprofits earning a profit."