NEW ORLEANS— The Southern Poverty Law Center is representing two residents in a lawsuit against Orleans Parish Assessor Errol Williams.
The suit alleges practices unfair to residents and landlords and in favor of some businesses.
Housing advocate Andreanicia Morris of Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance says that businesses like hotels and restaurants were given up to a 57% reduction in property taxes, while residents were facing increases.
Morris says, “Hotels were never told to close. Hotels were never forced to close. Hotels have been able to remain open during the pandemic.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Rosalind Peychaud and Neal Morris.
Williams contends, “We took every property, every type, analyzed each one of them and tried to make what we though was a reasonable estimate of what value changes were on those properties.”
The problem for Morris and housing advocates is that businesses were taxed on earning potential and residences were taxed on increased property values.
Williams also contends that his office was required to estimate the damages of the pandemic on the businesses, when figuring what they’re assessment would be.
“We find it absolutely unconscionable that deals would be given to, support would be give, subsidy would be given to businesses that leverage the tourism economy, while endangering the very people folks want to visit,” said Morris.
When asked if he thought the assessments were fair, Williams replied, “If I’m on the other side of it, I’ll say it ain’t fair, you should have given me the same thing. But does the hard evidence support that? The evidence we review said no it didn’t support that.”