Expect higher amounts on tax bills

New millages in EBR, along with real estate reassessment in 2012 contribute to increases

Property owners in East Baton Rouge Parish, especially those in the Baton Rouge city limits, probably noticed a spike in their property tax bills, which were disseminated early this month.

The reason for the increase is two-fold: Additional taxes passed this year, and increasing property values with 2012 being a reassessment year, Tax Assessor Brian Wilson said Thursday.

Property tax bills are delivered by the Sheriff’s Office in December and reflect taxes assessed by dozens of agencies, depending on where the property is. The deadline to pay property taxes is Dec. 31.

This year, two new property taxes went into effect: the 10.6-mill Capital Area Transit System tax passed by voters in Baton Rouge and Baker in April, and the 10-mill property tax to supplement the Chaneyville Fire Protection District, which passed in November 2011.

The CATS tax, which failed in the city of Zachary, is expected to generate $16.3 million for CATS, Wilson said.

The total taxable assessed property value in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2012 was $3.5 billion, a $179 million increase over the 2011 total taxable assessed property value of just less than $3.4 billion, Wilson said.

The reassessment accounted for $100 million of the increase, he said, while new construction growth was responsible for $79 million of the increase. The taxable assessed property value of new construction growth from 2010 to 2011 was about $60 million.

“I think it (new construction growth) shows we are improving each year,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he could not provide an average percent increase in taxes or in property values.

Assessments reflect a percent of the fair market value of a property and are used to calculate property owners’ ad valorem or property tax bills annually. Property taxes are levied on assessed value of personal property or real estate.

For residences, the assessed value of a property and land is 10 percent of market value.

All parish residents also likely saw some sort of tax increase as a result of the reassessment.

Reassessments occur every four years when officials reassess the individual value of the property in the parish. Property tax bills are based on their assessed values, so when assessments go up, so do taxes.

Taxing agencies can mitigate these tax increases by choosing to roll back their millages.

After a reassessment, millages are automatically rolled back so the taxing agencies receive the same amount of money as the year before, despite increases in property values.

But several agencies voted to roll forward their millages to the previous rate and receive the windfall of tax revenue.

All parish property owners were impacted by the Emergency Medical Services and Sheriff’s Office’s decisions to roll forward their millages. Those were the only parishwide taxing agencies to roll forward.

The following local agencies also rolled their millages forward, but the roll forward only affects certain parts of the parish: Fire Protection District 1, Brownsfield Fire Department, East Side Fire Department, District 6 Fire Department, Pride Fire Department, Alsen Fire Department, East Baton Rouge Parish school system, the Baker school system, Zachary school system, Baton Rouge Fire Pay Enhancement Fund and the City of Zachary.

The next reassessment will be in 2016.

Wilson gave examples of what the new taxes, which took effect this year, would cost property owners.

For a home valued at $100,000, with the state’s homestead exemption, the CATS tax increased the property tax bill by $26.50, Wilson said. For a $200,000 home, CATS tax increased the property tax bill by $132.50; by $238.50 for a $300,000 home; and by $344.50 for a $400,000, the assessor said.

The Chaneyville Fire Protection millage affects far fewer people. The district encompasses 87 square miles of mostly rural Deerford, Tucker, Milldale and Blackwater areas east of Zachary. Chaneyville already had a 10-mill property tax in place, but voters approved an additional 10 mill tax late last year.

The millage goes into effect this year, because the election was too late in 2011 to meet the December collection period, Wilson said.

For Chaneyville property owners with the homestead exemption, the additional 10 mills added $25 to the bill for a property owner with a home valued at $100,000; $125 for a $200,000 home and $225 for a $300,000 home, Wilson said.

Property taxes are due by no later than Dec. 31, according to the Assessor’s Office website. Interest at the rate of 1 percent per month on the unpaid balance plus cost of collection will be added if tax bills are delinquent after Dec. 31.

Residents can view their tax payment status or pay taxes online at http://www.ebrso.org.

The Sheriff’s Office tax office will be open on New Year’s Eve from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.