Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux gives a presentation on property taxes during a meeting of the Lafayette City and Parish Councils Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Lafayette, La.

The assessed value of property in the city of Lafayette and Lafayette Parish dropped this year for the first time since the oil industry crash of the 1980s.

The taxable value of property in the parish is down 6.6% this year. The taxable value of property in the city of Lafayette is down 4.4%, Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux said at a Parish Council budget meeting last week.

It's the only time taxable property values have dropped since 1988, he said Monday.

The result of the drop is that existing property tax millages will generate less money for local government this year unless the City and Parish Councils act. If they do act, it may mean property owners will pay higher property taxes.

The Parish Council and City Council are scheduled to meet in special session Tuesday evening to consider introducing ordinances that would increase the millages so that they collect the same revenue as last year.

When property taxable values drop, Comeaux said, state law allows a taxing body to increase property tax millages so they bring in the same amount of revenue as the prior year.

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Parish Council Chairman Kevin Naquin said the parish budget can't absorb a 1-2% reduction in property taxes. The parish general fund balance at the end of the fiscal year is expected to contain only $50,000.

Comeaux said Monday commercial property values have been declining since 2015 due to the downturn in the oilfield. What's different, he said, is that "residential values are staying pretty steady, unlike the 1980s, when both residential and commercial values were falling."

From 1985 to 1986, the net taxable value in the parish dropped 25.98% and the city of Lafayette taxable value dropped 23.45%, Comeaux said.

Taxable property values continued to fall through 1988, he said, finally recovering to the 1984 levels in 1997.

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