In The News › 4 Investigates: Assessor raises value of his home as neighbors complain

Dec 30, 2009

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

4 Investigates: Assessor raises value of his home as neighbors complain

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
By Paul Murphy, Eyewitness News
WWLTV

NEW ORLEANS — Some New Orleans homeowners in Lakeview are taking 7th District Property Assessor Henry Heaton to task.

According to the assessor’s website, his new, 3000 square foot, raised home on 36th Street is now appraised at a modest $88,600.

That doesn’t sit well with some of Heaton’s neighbors.

“I come over here to Heaton’s house and I look it up on the website and I see he assessed himself, $88,600 for a $650,000 house,” said Terry Lonatro from Bellaire Drive. “I’m like, what is this all about?”

Lonatro’s home is smaller than Heaton’s place. But, according to the assessors website, its value is listed at $275,000.

Lonatro said he now expects to pay more property tax than Heaton.

“He’s basically going to pay around $200 a year and I’m paying over $3,000,” said Lonatro. “It’s just not fair. It’s ridiculous.”

“I don’t think much of him and I don’t think most of the residents of the city of New Orleans do either,” said Lakeview homeowner Kathleen Zuniga.

Heaton assessed Zuniga’s home at $375,000.

“I think it’s very unfair,” said Zuniga. “I think he needs to be held to a higher standard and I personally don’t think he should be able to assess his own property value.”

“The assessor can assess his own home,” said Janet Howard from the independent Bureau of Governmental Research. “In fact, there’s no one else to assess it. But, it is subject to review by the Louisiana Tax Commission.

Howard checked with the tax commission and it appears the assessment on Heaton’s home is on the rise.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Assessor Heaton told Eyewitness News that his appraisal will go from $88,600 to somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000. He also said his property tax for 2010, will be based on that higher figure.

Wednesday night, after an initial phone conversation with WWL, Heaton said he had filed an online change order, that will raise the assessment from $88,000 to $410,000. He said the paperwork for the change is headed to the state Department of Treasury for processing.

Next year, the old seven assessor system in New Orleans is going away as voters cast ballots for a new citywide assessor. The BGR said it’s a good first step in taking the politics out of property appraisals.

“We really need a reform candidate to win,” said Howard. “Somebody who is willing to take the office, structure it properly, hire people with the proper expertise. Use the technology that’s available to do proper appraisals.”

“I think we need change with the one assessor system,” said Zuniga. “I think we need to take away a lot of the, a lot of judgment. I think we need more controls in place within that system.”

You can check your property’s assessed value in Orleans by clicking on to the Orleans Board of Assessors website, www.opboa.org.

Dec 30, 2009

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

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