Assessor

I.  Power

The office of the assessor of each Louisiana parish was created under the constitution of the State of Louisiana to establish fair and equitable values for all property in the parish. (LA Const., Article VII, Sec. II, 24) These property valuations are the basis of the property taxes that are a major source of local income for the city and parish of Lafayette. Property taxes are also called ad valorum taxes, meaning “to the value.”

The tax rate for property tax is a mil, or 1/1000 OR .001 per dollar of value. That means it would take $1,000 of value to pay $1 in property tax, or $100,000 in value to pay $100 in property tax.

The assessor does not tax. He establishes the fair market value on each property. Then he figures the property taxes owed by each holder of property by applying the millages (tax rates) established by each taxing unit of government to the fair market value of that property.

The Assessor stands for election every four (4) years. He must have lived in the state for the preceding two years and in the parish for one year preceding his election. He is allowed to appoint deputy assessors as needed to staff the office. RS 18:52, RS 47:19

The Assessor is “solely responsible” for personnel, budgeting, and the managing of his budget. (Leg. Audit report, 2008)

His salary is set by legislative law based on the population of the parish he serves. He may receive a supplement for professional certification, and must be recertified every five years to maintain the supplement. The Assessor follows the mandates of the Louisiana State Constitution, the laws of the Revised Statutes of Louisiana, and the “Rules and Regulations of the Louisiana Tax Commission.”

II.  Services

The Assessor is required by the state to reassess all property at least every four years.  The tax rolls must be prepared each year, brought up to date, and submitted to each taxing unit of government.  The tax rolls must be open to the public for at least 15 days between August 15 and September 15.  In Lafayette Parish this is usually from August 31 to September 15.  At this point, the citizen may appeal his assessment.  When the challenges are settled, the assessor applies the millages to the assessments, clears the tax rolls, and submits them to the Louisiana State Tax Commission and the parish sheriff and his Tax Department.

Besides maintaining up-to-date property values, the assessor

  •  tracks ownership changes
  • keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics
  • maintains maps of parcel boundaries
  • accepts and approves applications for exemptions and abatements for various forms of property tax relief
  • analyzes trends in property sales prices, construction costs, and rents to arrive at a fair market value.

The web site of the Lafayette assessor’s office (www.lafayetteassessor.com) is an accessible and easy to use tool for the education of the citizen on the manner in which property is assessed and on his or her rights to challenge the process.  The following topics are addressed on the web site:

  1. Who is the assessor and what does he do?
  2. Why is taxation necessary?
  3. How is property assessed?
  4. How can the citizen protest his assessment?
  5. How does a citizen apply for a tax exemption?
  6. What is the current assessment on any given property?

The web site offers a property search, a tax estimator, and downloadable forms for tax exemptions.  The office of the Assessor is open 8a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The staff will help with information on ownership, legal descriptions, assessments, sales information, lot size and square footage.  They also offer assistance with filing for tax exemptions or disputing property evaluations.

 III.  Budget and Funding

The Assessor is responsible for his own budget, disbursements, and deficits.  The budget must be prepared and a public meeting held at least fifteen days before the beginning of the fiscal year. It is then finalized.

The bulk of funding for the assessor’s office is derived from the parish property tax.  Approximately 1.8% of a Parish property tax bill goes to the assessor.

Income FY2015

Ad valorem (property) taxes
State Revenue Sharing

Tax Roll Fees
:
Interest Income
Total:

   95.6%
    3.0%

     1.4%
       .0% 100.00%

Expenses
Personnel
Supplies

Other operating expenses

Capital outlay

Total:

   77.0%
    
1.7%

   20.0%
     1.3%
100.00%

Total Budget:  $3,194,750.00

ORGANIZATION OF OFFICE:  The Assessor has a Chief Deputy.  The staff is divided into the following departments:

  • Information
  • Transfers
  • Appraisals
  • Mapping and Research
  • Field Appraisal
  • Personal Property
  • Administration

All of the staff are deputy assessors, and are strongly encouraged to be certified deputy assessors.

The assessor’s office is currently implementing the use and expansion of computer technology to make the assessments more equitable and efficient.  In progress are:

  1. A computer assisted mass appraisal program (CAMA)
  2. A Geographic Information System parcel base map (GIS)
  3. Computer assisted tracking of dual homestead exemptions

INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION:

  1. Sheriff and tax collecting agencies
  2. Joint funding with LCG for installation and maintenance of computer software
  3. University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  4. State government and the legislator auditor’s office
  5. Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA)
  6. Clerk of Court
  7. Registrar of Voters


Sources

Conrad Comeaux, Lafayette Parish Assessor, 2015
Louisiana Constitution, Article VII, Sect. 24
LA Revised Statutes, RS 18: 451.2, RS 47:1705, RS 47:2323,RS 47:1906, RS 47: 1907, RS 33: 4713; RS 18: 4512, RS 47: 1992
Louisiana Legislative Audit Reports, 2008 Website,Lafayette Parish Assessor

Updated 2015
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