In The News › Backers of bloated assessor system try new play

Apr 20, 2006

Source: Lafayette Advisor

Backers of bloated assessor system try new play

Backers of bloated assessor system trying new ploy

Those trying to maintain the obese New Orleans bureaucracy by holding on to all seven assessors’ offices have a
new ploy. They claim it would be unfair to consolidate the offices before the current occupants have served out their
terms.

It is a flawed argument for keeping a flawed system intact.

James Farwell, adviser to the executive committee of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region,
says “the key rationale that apologists for the status quo advance against shortening the current terms of assessors is
that these officials were elected to those terms and are entitled to serve them in full.” Farwell said it is “as if the fact
of election conferred the imprimatur of divine sanction.”

He said the argument “collapses upon the most superficial inspection.”

We agree.

Jay Lapeyre, chairman of the business council, which is fighting to consolidate the seven assessor’s offices, sees it as
a move to slow the forward movement of the consolidation bill. If opponents can sell the idea that the current
assessors should be allowed to serve out their terms before consolidation occurs, they can then argue that there is no
hurry – and no need for legislation in this session.

“Were those terms arbitrarily curtailed by executive fiat or administrative action,” Farwell says, “the objection to
shortening them would make sense. But their argument has more holes than Swiss cheese when viewed in light of a
proposal that puts the decision on whether to shorten terms in the hands of the voters whose taxes fund the assessors
and whose public interests assessors are elected to serve.’

The consolidation would require a constitutional amendment, approved by the taxpayers.

Our support of consolidation is based on the need to eliminate – in any area of the state – corrupt political structures
that do massive damage to Louisiana’s image. The seven New Orleans property tax assessors are doing the work that
one official does elsewhere. They use, according to the Bureau of Governmental Research, unprofessional and
arbitrary practices that create unfair and widely disparate assessments of similarly valued property.

Farwell says the bloated system empowers politically motivated public officials “to do favors to consolidate their
own favor, at the expense of fair play to other taxpayers.”

The idea that such a system should be maintained, even temporarily, because those within it were put there through
a public referendum is devoid of logic or common sense.

It is time for this type of Louisiana “politics as usual” to end.

New Orleans opponents of consolidation argue that it is a “New Orleans issue.” The waste of tax dollars and the
unfairness of the system reflect on the entire state, keeping alive an image we want to shed.

Consolidate now. Let the assessors’ terms end in midstream, if that is the will of the people, expressed at the polls.

Apr 20, 2006

Source: Lafayette Advisor

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