Assessors to review property assessments
Home and business owners whose structures flooded during Hurricane Isaac may be able to get a break on their property taxes this year and in the future, according to assessors in Livingston and Ascension parishes.
Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor said his office will look at the damage that occurred to buildings and make an assessment reduction for this year where it is warranted.
In cases in which homes or businesses have not flooded before, Taylor said he will consider a long-lasting reduction in the value of the buildings.
“They probably won’t sell for as much now because they have flooded,” Taylor said.
Flooding reduces the value of property even after repairs are made, he said.
Homes and businesses that flooded previously have that reduction already built into their assessments in most cases, the assessor said.
Ascension Parish Assessor Renee Michel said her office also will reduce assessments of damaged property this year for people who bring in documentation of the damages.
Changing the long-term values of homes that have not flooded previously also needs to be addressed, she said.
“That is a bigger issue and will probably be dealt with when I’m not there,” said Michel, who leaves office in January.
Incoming Ascension Parish Assessor Mert Smiley said he will have to look at the sale prices of homes in areas that flooded.
He said he will watch those prices over the next couple of years.
In Livingston Parish, Taylor said he will have to document a change in prices, and it may be next year before sales provide the numbers needed to change assessments.
“I am going to try to look at that immediately, but I’ve got to back that up with numbers,” Taylor said.
If sales occur and a trend appears, Taylor said he would make assessment reductions immediately.
“If I can trend it this year, I’m going to trend it,” he said.
On the issue of immediate assessment reduction for actual damages, Taylor said homeowners need to bring to his office documentation, such as pictures, receipts and legitimate estimates for damage repair.
“We are going to verify them,” Taylor said. “People will go out to look at the damage to make sure everything is legitimate.”
He said he would like to get that information from people by Oct. 1, but if property owners cannot get it by then, they can call his office and arrange a later time.
“If there is a problem, we will work with it,” Taylor said. “Some people are still trying to clean up.”
“We are going to do the same thing in Ascension,” said Smiley, who had already begun working at the Assessor’s Office there.
Information provided to reduce an assessment is a little more difficult if submitted after Thursday, but the office can still handle it, he said.
The office will do everything it can to assist flood victims, Smiley said.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Legislature made a legal change allowing the re-evaluation of property to reflect storm damage, Smiley said.
Unless a home is valued at less than $75,000, assessments have a direct impact on property taxes owed.
Over the past decade, Livingston and Ascension parishes have been two of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.