In The News › Nonprofit BGR sues New Orleans tax assessors to get 2010 tax roll

Dec 14, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

Nonprofit BGR sues New Orleans tax assessors to get 2010 tax roll

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By Gordon Russell
The Times-Picayune

The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research has sued New Orleans’ assessors, saying the group has refused to turn over the city’s 2010 tax roll “at a reasonable price.”

The watchdog group, which has long championed more uniform assessments, has been seeking the information in a “plain text format” from the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors since March, according to a news release. But the assessors have set an “unreasonable” price for the data, the group said — adding that the price has “fluctuated significantly.”

Initially, the assessors wanted $13,000 for the tax roll, which “should cost no more than a programmer’s fee to produce,” according to BGR. The price was later reduced to $4,525.

The nonprofit says that amount “bears no relationship to the actual cost incurred to create the copy,” which is the standard set out in state law for public records.

BGR has made every effort to avoid filing suit and to obtain public records at a fair price through discussion with the assessors,” the group’s chairman, Sterling Scott Willis, said in a prepared statement. “However, it is clear that we have reached an impasse with the assessors. It is time to turn to the courts for enforcement of BGR’s right to obtain these records at a reasonable price.”

Various studies have shown huge disparities in assessments across the city, including some by The Times-Picayune. The city’s seven assessors were directed to reassess all residential property in the city after the newspaper published one such study in 2004.

More recently, Mayor Mitch Landrieu last week appointed a Tax Fairness Commission, which is tasked with recommending ways to ensure the city’s tax burden is shared as fairly as possible.

The lawsuit by BGR comes as the era of multiple property assessors in New Orleans is coming to a close. At the end of the year, Erroll Williams, now the assessor for the 3rd District, will become New Orleans’ first citywide assessor.

Dec 14, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

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