In The News › Watchdog group settles lawsuit with Orleans assessor over public records

Jan 18, 2011

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

Watchdog group settles lawsuit with Orleans assessor over public records

Wednesday, January 18, 2011
By Dominic Massa
WWLTV

NEW ORLEANS – The Bureau of Governmental Research has settled a lawsuit filed in December against the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors for what the group called a failure to turn over property tax records at a reasonable price.

In a statement Tuesday, BGR said it settled with assessor Erroll Williams, agreeing to pay $1,343 for the property tax roll information it had requested – far less than the $4,525 price the assessor’s office had most recently levied. The assessor also agreed to pay BGR’s court costs, the group said.

The court fight stemmed from a request from the watchdog group, dating back to last March, for the 2010 property tax roll from the assessors. BGR said the board of assessors responded to the request by setting high fees for the records, first asking for nearly $13,000 before reducing the fee to $4,525, which BGR called unreasonable for the amount of work.

BGR said it had requested the information in a plain-text format, which it said was “conducive to mapping and analysis.” In December, Williams had said that the fact that BGR requested a searchable database, rather than just access to records, drove up the fees.

In its lawsuit, BGR took the position that the charges bore no relationship to the actual cost incurred to create the copy, and therefore violated the Louisiana Public Records Act.

“The price BGR has agreed to pay still exceeds the actual cost of producing the records, but it’s time to move forward,” said Scott Willis, BGR’s chairman, in a news release. “The settlement allows BGR to proceed in a timely manner with important research on the local tax base.”

Jan 18, 2011

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

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