Parish Assessor Gives Overview of Upcoming Reassessment Process

At the May 16 Plaquemines Association of Business & Industry (PABI) luncheon, business leaders and parish officials heard a presentation on the upcoming reassessment cycle from Plaquemines Parish Assessor Sara Taylor. The presentation itself was fairly standard, with Taylor merely giving an overview of the process. She explained what the reassessment cycle is, how her office goes about assessing properties in the parish, what the assessment is based on, how it could affect the parish, and more.

Taylor explained that by Louisiana state law, every parish must go through a reassessment cycle every four years. This reassessment of property values in the parish provides the basis of how property tax millages will be collected and how much individual residents and businesses will owe in property tax. She emphasized that though it’s labeled as the “2024 reassessment,” state law outlines that “all real property is to be valued as of January 1, 2023.”

There are numerous, complex factors that go into a reassessment, but, on the whole, the process begins with Taylor and her office grouping similar neighborhoods into “market areas” to determine average sale price of the properties as a whole and the average sale price of the properties per square foot. This is used as a guidepost to show Taylor and her office what values should typically be expected in a given area.

“From there, we readjust individual homes on the basis of location, site size, and building size,” Taylor stated, explaining that the assessed value of a property isn’t based on the internal improvements or condition of a home. “That value we determine will remain in place until the next reassessment period in 2028.”

Commercial and industrial assessment is different from residential, Taylor said. In that process, Taylor and her office evaluate the land as if it were vacant. The cost of the building is estimated using a standardized matrix that takes into account a variety of different factors—what kind of materials is used in the building, the kind of plumbing, lighting, and mechanical infrastructure it has, its heating/ cooling infrastructure, and the cost of the building. She also emphasized that commercial properties are more heavily taxed than residential property. So, if a commercial property and residential property receive an identical evaluation, the owner of the commercial property will pay more in taxes than the residential owner.

The entire process, Taylor noted, is overseen by the Louisiana Tax Commission. They set the rules and regulations, review the tax roll, approve any changes Taylor may make to the tax roll as a result of reassessment, and handle any appeals property owners make on Taylor’s assessment of their property. Additionally, the Louisiana Tax Commission will conduct an annual “ratio study” that determines whether properties in the parish are assessed correctly.

Part of Taylor’s presentation included a section on millages—or property taxes collected by local taxing bodies (parish government, school board, sheriff’s office). She explained that 1 mill is $1 per $1,000 of the assessed value. If a property is assessed at $35,000, the owner would pay $35 for a 1 mill millage. The reason Taylor gave this basic overview of how millages are collected is that the reassessment will change how much property owners pay in millages.

If the assessed value of a property increases, the owner will pay more in millages. If it goes down, the owner will pay less.

“Plaquemines has a total millage rate of 70.69 mills. That is one of the lowest millage rates in the entire state, and by far the lowest rate in the immediate region,” Taylor stated, explaining that every neighboring parish (Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, etc.) have millage rates well above 100 mills. “Our taxing bodies have kept millage rates very low and worked within those bounds.”

There is one other aspect to millages that must be noted here. Millage collections are adopted every year by the various taxing bodies in the parish—this is overseen by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA). But these millages are adjusted at the 4 year reassessment. If Taylor’s reassessment process determines that the tax base as a whole has decreased significantly, residents may find themselves paying more in millages. If she finds that the tax base has increased, residents may pay less in millages. This is done to ensure that local taxing bodies collect a relatively stable amount in millage revenues every year (based on the implemented millage rate).

Concluding the presentation, Taylor emphasized that the values of properties are constantly changing. Some residents move in, some move out, some properties are expanded or have significant improvements done to them, others deteriorate. On top of that, commercial developments—whether good or bad—also have significant impacts on the parish tax rolls in general. She explained that an assessment of parish property values are just a snapshot in time.

This means that the reassessment process currently being conducted by Taylor’s office could yield some significant changes in the tax roll and, ultimately, how much residents and business owners will pay in millages.

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