GONZALES — Ascension Parish Assessor M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. said Thursday a recent data sweep of existing properties and improvements missing from the tax rolls has generated far less public consternation than expected.
“It all went very, very well,” Smiley said after a Board of Review hearing Thursday night in Gonzales during which his 2014 tax roll was adopted.
Smiley was able to collect the new information through improved collection of permit data, revamped software and website, and an aerial imagery project paid for by his office and other parish taxing bodies that covered all of Ascension.
According to early numbers, the data sweep contributed to total taxable assessed values increasing by 10.7 percent between 2013 to 2014, from $1.04 billion to $1.15 billion.
The projected increase is estimated to mean about $11.5 million in additional tax revenue for the parish School Board, Sheriff’s Office, parish government and other local governing bodies.
But officials also were bracing for the possibility of strong public reaction once property owners received notices about changes to their assessments once Smiley made the tax rolls available for public review.
During that “open book” period in August, property owners were able to review 2014 assessments and speak with Smiley and his staff.
Assessments that cannot be worked out between Smiley and taxpayers can be appealed to the parish Board of Review, which is the Parish Council. That review can be a step toward scrutiny by the Louisiana Tax Commission and even litigation.
But at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales on Thursday, the Parish Council, acting as the Board of Review, learned that only five appeals had been filed with the board, three of which were resolved before the board met and were withdrawn, and two more that were filed too late.
With no appeals, the board adopted the 2014 tax roll on a 8-0 vote. Councilmen Benny Johnson and Daniel “Doc” Satterlee were absent. Council Chairman Randy Clouatre does not vote unless to break a tie.
Smiley said after the hearing that just about all complaints he is aware of have been worked out.
His chief deputy, Justin Champlin, said the two appeals that were filed too late with the Board of Review were resolved but could not be withdrawn.
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