Frustrated homeowners believe tax appeal process should be improved

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 15 at 10:41 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - After days of headaches and long lines the window to meet with the Orleans Parish Assessor's Office to challenge tax assessments has officially closed.

Many believe the lengthy process is outdated and should be streamlined.

"I packed the same way I would if I were getting on an airplane to travel to a third world country to visit my city hall," said Hunter.

The Uptown homeowner waited more than 10 hours Wednesday at city hall, joining hundreds of others protesting their property tax assessment.

"I do not have $1,100 extra every year to spend on an appraisal that I know is overstated by $100,000," said Hunter. "The valuation I felt was so out of bounds based on what I know about my neighborhood and I've lived in my neighborhood for 50 years, that I came out of my own pocket for $350 and paid for an independent appraisal."

Like Hunter, many who waited in line Wednesday didn't just take issue with the assessed value of their property, but also with the process to appeal. They believe it needs to be updated and better organized.

"I spent the day looking at the hallways of city hall," said Pamela Hunter. "The first four hours of my wait, there was no seating."

By about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, more than 500 people were in line, prompting the assessor's office to begin turning people away. Lina Martinez was one of them.

"I'm unemployed. I can't afford to pay more for my [property taxes] at this point," said Martinez.

The Algiers homeowner said she was told to file online. Turns out, you can't. According to tax assessor Erroll Williams, online filing isn't' available in Orleans Parish because of budget constraints.

"As a manager of government funds I have to manage my operating costs," said Williams, saying he would have to pay for cases of paper to print four copies of each appeal filed online.

"I can't understand why they wouldn't make this more friendly for the residents, file online or fax number where you can fax your forms," said Martinez.

"I'd like to show you pictures of 1963 to show you the same process existed back then except people didn't sit down but they stood up for all those hours to do the same," said Williams. "What we learned is we can try and be more accommodating and see if we can make some online info available to the people. That's basically about it."

As for Hunter, the Uptown homeowner says she didn't receive notice her taxes were going up... until the two week window to protest had already opened... Leaving her scrambling to get an independent appraisal, take a day off work, and appeal.

If you weren't able to meet with the assessor's office by Wednesday, you can still file an appeal. You can print out an appeal form from the assessor's website at http://nolaassessor.Com/, make four copies, and drop them off between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Or mail them to the assessor's office so they arrive by Monday.

The assessor's office must get the paperwork for appeals to the board of review by Aug. 24.

 

 

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