With tax rolls open, French Quarter land values see big spike

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 1, 2012 at 10:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 1 at 10:21 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Starting Wednesday the tax rolls are officially open for inspection at City Hall.

The Orleans Parish Assessor's Office says approximately 41,000 property owners are seeing a tax increase, while 23,000 are seeing a decrease.

In the French Quarter, the assessor's office confirmed 3,254 parcels of land will see their land value assessments nearly double.

"I got a little flag about two months ago," said Leo Watermeier, who has owned his North Rampart property for 20 years now.

Watermeier lined up with others on Wednesday to inspect the tax rolls at New Orleans City Halll. He was shocked to see his land value assessment nearly double.

The French Quarter homeowner said he doesn't understand how his Rampart address can have the same land value as a Bourbon Street parcel of land. Just across the street in Treme, he said, land value is even lower.

"On one side of the street it's $20 a square foot and this side it's $60, and this is suppose to be the new and improved single assessor's office?" said Watermeier.

Orleans Parish Assessor Errol Williams confirms that French Quarter land values have gone up. Williams said they averaged around $35 per square foot; now they're being assessed at $60 per square foot.

"It's at $60 dollars because that's closer to what it's worth. I'm in the ballpark now," said Williams, who believes the change is long overdue and reflects the Quarter's prime real estate draw.

"There is some dispute over whether or not certain parts of the Quarter shouldn't get the same land rate. We believe when you pay the prices, which is abnormal to what the rest of the city is, that you buy for location. So we did change the land rates for the Quarter," added Williams.

However, Meg Lousteau with Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents & Associates said someone will ultimately have to pay for that tax spike.

"Anything that's going to greatly increase tax bills will affect property owners here, not all of whom are wealthy and may force them to move, and certainly any tax increase will be passed along to renters," said Lousteau.

A change in tax rolls that Watermeier now plans to appeal.

"It's frustrating and now it means the burden is on us, on the property owner to do the assessor's job," said Watermeier.

Tax rolls can be reviewed from now until Aug. 15 at City Hall.

If you're still unhappy after meeting with an assessor, property owners can file an appeal with the Orleans Parish Board of Review.

The deadline to file an appeal is Aug. 20.

 

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