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Coverage of BGR in local, regional, and national media

BGR In The News

Should non-profits start paying taxes on their property?

Mar 9, 2017

60% of Louisiana property taxes were not taxed! This hours guest: Amy Glovinsky – President/CEO BGR (Bureau of Governmental Research)

Source: WWL Radio

Why will New Orleans property owners get another tax bill this year?

Feb 1, 2017

This millage provides 28 percent of the revenue the Sewerage and Water Board uses for system upkeep, according to the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Jefferson hotels to begin charging an extra 1 percent to help boost tourism

Aug 11, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a local nonpartisan think tank, opposed the self-assessment by New Orleans hotels, saying such surcharges diminish the ability of governments to propose their own taxes to generate revenue.

Source: The Advocate

The $165 million question: How best to invest New Orleans’ tourism tax revenue?

Aug 3, 2016

The BGR study estimated that the hotel taxes generated $165.9 million in 2015. After accounting for all the pass-throughs and levels of distributions, the watchdog group estimated that about $126.8 million — 76 percent — went to tourism-related entities. The remaining 24 percent went to public services such as city government, transportation and education.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

BGR criticizes bill to allow Morial Convention Center to levy taxes in nearby area

May 11, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research said the measure would exacerbate a fractured taxing system in New Orleans that already does too much to constrain how local officials can spend tax dollars.

Source: The Advocate

BGR pans Morial Convention Center taxing power

May 11, 2016

The watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research is repeating its refrain against approving new taxes in New Orleans without a thorough evaluation of dedications already in place.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Let New Orleanians decide on nonprofit tax exemptions: A letter to the editor

Apr 12, 2016

Although it appears that there is now a growing consensus among good government groups such as the Bureau of Governmental Research, the media and some local politicians (see the Tax Fairness Commission report of 2011 by Mayor Mitch Landrieu), there has been no action.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

New Orleans street repair pledge leads voters to back $120 million bond sale

Apr 9, 2016

The nonprofit watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research, which previously raised questions about the city’s overall tax structure, endorsed the bond issue but raised concerns the city’s 30-year debt service plan.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

To Pay First Responders, New Orleans Heads To Polls

Apr 8, 2016

This Saturday New Orleanians will have a chance to vote on new taxes intended to improve public safety and settle long-standing debts to the fire department. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research issued a report on the vote, saying the increases are needed, lest other programs be cut.

Source: WWNO

Our Views: Vote for tax plan in Saturday’s city election

Apr 8, 2016

We share some of the reservations of the Bureau of Governmental Research, www.bgr.org, about long-term bond issues for street repairs that might last, at best, for the length of the bond payments.

Source: The Advocate

Taxes vs. Tulane scholarships: Towards a more equitable way to deal with exemptions

Apr 4, 2016

As reported by the Bureau of Governmental Research in 2011, over 4,900 parcels were owed by non-profit organizations and exempt from paying property taxes.

Source: The Lens

Louisiana needs tighter rules regarding nonprofit property-tax exemptions: An editorial

Mar 6, 2016

In Orleans Parish, according to a 2011 BGR report, the value of property that’s not on the tax rolls exceeds the value of property that is.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

James Gill: Not best time for New Orleans to seek state help

Mar 5, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research calculated that, if nonprofits were required to pay taxes, the city would be better off to the tune of $125 million a year.

Source: The Advocate

Amid budget crisis in Louisiana, group urges lawmakers to rein in local tax breaks for nonprofits

Mar 2, 2016

The Legislature should move to tighten rules in the state constitution that exempt property owned by nonprofit organizations from taxes as a way to offset the impact of the ongoing budget crisis on local governments, the Bureau of Governmental Research recommended in a report released Wednesday.

Source: The Advocate

A $1 billion puzzler: Are New Orleans’ taxing priorities ripe for revamp?

Nov 10, 2015

In a new report, the watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research used the stalled convention center expansion, along with several examples, to call for a full-scale appraisal of just where every tax dollar in New Orleans ends up and a setting of new priorities in a city of fatted calves and long-neglected corners.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

BGR: Taxes in New Orleans may not be funding city’s priorities

Nov 10, 2015

Rather than bolstering public safety or fixing the city’s streets, much of the tax money that New Orleans collects is going to agencies devoted to promoting tourism, according to a new report from the nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research that raises questions about whether dedicated taxes are funding services that are out of step with the priorities of residents.

Source: The Advocate

Two constitutional amendments would affect only Orleans Parish

Nov 3, 2014

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonpartisan group, notes that the proposed amendment “would simply allow New Orleans city government to do what every other municipality in Louisiana can already do: ask voters to approve property taxes for police and fire services that are not subject to the homestead exemption.”

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans tax proposal to fund jail backed by Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Oct 8, 2014

BGR President Janet Howard said her group supports the ballot measure because it avoids raising taxes or cutting deeper into the city’s budget. “It’s one of the least painful options out there,” she said.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

N.O. sheriff, mayor both support plan to shift money for courtroom fix

Oct 6, 2014

The tax would generate about $5 million in its first year, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Governmental Research, which supports the measure.

Source: The Advocate

Non-profit-owned property could generate much-needed tax revenue

Jul 23, 2014

“The only restriction is that it can’t be used for unrelated commercial purpose, but that means somebody can hold property for an investment, they can hold it and not redevelop it, which creates its own set of blight problems,” said BGR President and CEO Janet Howard

Source: FOX 8

Martiny’s bill could result in new charges for Jefferson Parish hotel guests

Feb 11, 2014

The Bureau of Governmental Research, among others, criticized the New Orleans-focused law on multiple fronts. The surcharge is effectively a tax lacking oversight by local elected officials, and the decision to apply it to tourism marketing is “being made in a vacuum,” BGR said.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Angela Hill: Should non-profits lose tax exempt status?

Dec 18, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research did a study on non-profits and the impact of their tax-exempt status. Their insights are eye-opening and sometimes jaw-dropping.

Source: WWL Radio

Tax revenue enters the spotlight for Orleans Parish School Board, inspector general

Jul 15, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research published a report this spring criticizing the School Board’s accounting of money it manages for the Recovery School District.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Hotels would be able to tax themselves under bill approved by House Wednesday

May 30, 2013

A bill allowing hotels to vote to add an extra charge to their customers’ bills to pay for better marketing through the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau passed the Louisiana House on Wednesday, the last significant step before becoming law. The measure would also direct some funds from any fee that is assessed to the city of New Orleans; city officials have said the money would be spent on public safety and infrastructure in the French Quarter.

Source: Times-Picayune

Sewerage & Water Board asks firm to research new fee to fund drainage projects

May 8, 2013

A December 2012 report by the Bureau of Governmental Research noted that the sewer and water rate increase “would cover only a portion of the S&WB’s capital needs. The new revenue could not be used to address drainage system needs,” estimated at $356 million over eight years.

Source: The Lens

Voters to face crowded ballot

Nov 5, 2012

The National Rifle Association-pushed change won overwhelming legislative support during the 2012 Legislature. Supporters, including the Republican Party of Louisiana, say the change would protect gun rights regardless of who in the future is appointed to high court positions or elected to the Legislature.

Opponents include Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, the Council for a Better Louisiana, based in Baton Rouge, and the Bureau of Governmental Research, in New Orleans. They claim that more than 80 laws could come under court challenge, including those stopping possession of guns by felons and banning possession of firearms in bars, at parades, on college campuses and the like.

Source: The Advocate

Ballot measure would renew property tax for businesses for 20 years

Nov 1, 2012

New Orleans voters refused to renew the tax last year, and BGR recommends voters say “no” once again.

Source: Fox 8

Election 2012: What’s on the ballot

Oct 31, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans looks at examines three of proposed constitutional amendments as well as two propositions that pertain to multiple parishes in the New Orleans area, a proposed change to the City of New Orleans charter and two local tax propositions.

Source: Nola.com

Orleans Parish voters to decide Nov. 6 on renewing, increasing millage for Orleans Levee District

Oct 26, 2012

However, the Bureau of Governmental Research questions the wisdom of the proposed millages. “It is not clear that the current approach to the non-flood assets is optimal,” it said in its analysis of the millage requests.

Source: Nola.com

BGR President & CEO Discusses Items on the Nov. 6 Ballot

Oct 26, 2012

Source: WWL Radio

Voters to decide on Business Park property tax

Oct 24, 2012

The BGR recommended against the proposal in an Oct. 1 news release. According to the research conducted by the BGR, none of the businesses contacted “could identify any benefits they derived from it.” They said that the business park’s operations in the district have been so limited over the years that they would not notice a difference if the entity were eliminated altogether.”

Source: The Advocate

Watchdog group takes stand against property tax proposition

Oct 23, 2012

“We have no problem at all with renewing 5.46 mills for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority,” said Janet Howard, president and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: Fox 8

What’s on your ballot: early voting begins Tuesday across Louisiana

Oct 22, 2012

he non-partisan groups Council for a Better Louisiana, Public Affairs Research Council and Bureau of Governmental Research have analyzed and taken positions on several of the amendments and all three groups urge voters to study the amendments beforehand to minimize delays at the polls.

Source: WWL-TV

New Orleans voters to decide Nov. 6 on Regional Business Park tax

Oct 18, 2012

BGR said that despite the park’s seemingly strategic location, it has always struggled to attract new businesses.

Source: Nola.com

Questions surround legality of S&WB vote on millage rate

Sep 27, 2012

Janet Howard heads the Bureau of Governmental Research. She says the board may have violated open meetings laws because there’s no mention on the meeting agenda that a vote would take place on rolling the millage forward.

Source: Fox 8

Eastern New Orleans tax, fee on November ballot

Jul 23, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research said last year that, despite the park’s seemingly strategic location, it has always struggled to attract new businesses, and success stories such as Folgers have been few.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Incentives were key as New Orleans was wooing Costco

Jun 17, 2012

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Governmental Research said the policy falls short of what’s needed to guide “smart, transparent investment decisions” and fails to set clear strategic goals for investment. The bureau also said the criteria are weak on why the public should invest in a project.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Hospitality district, board could be in the works for New Orleans

Apr 29, 2012

“The proposed hospitality legislation raises a number of questions and issues,” said Janet Howard of the watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research. She cited the imposition of a new district on top of existing ones, the “appropriateness of the proposed boundaries and governance,” and provisions that would allow the board to authorize tax-increment financing districts and other sub-districts.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Industrial Development Board is generous with property tax breaks for developers

Apr 29, 2012

For real estate developers, visiting the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans and asking for a property tax break is a worthwhile step as they map out financing for their projects. According to an analysis by the Bureau of Governmental Research, the board has rejected only one request for a property tax break since 1997.

Source: The Times-Picayune

IBD hears presentations on South Market District, Jazzland Outlet Mall

Mar 21, 2012

But Walter Flower, president of the IDB, which has been under pressure from the Bureau of Government Research in recent months for having criteria that are too loose and informal in granting tax abatements, cautioned that the approval was only a starting point for discussion.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans mayor abandons for the coming year effort to make some nonprofit groups pay property tax

Dec 21, 2011

But BGR President Janet Howard said the city’s decision to drop its efforts to change the exemption rules is alarming.

“It’s very disappointing news for taxpayers that there’s an unwillingness to take on the topic at all,” she said. “There’s a whole range of options, and they haven’t even taken steps to deal with the most egregious examples of over-generosity, where the nonprofit is providing no benefit to the public.”

Source: The Times-Picayune

Jefferson voters to decide Saturday on doubled homestead for disabled veterans

Nov 16, 2011

The non-profit Bureau of Governmental Research opposes the measure, arguing that veterans’ benefits should be handled by the federal government. In addition, the measure creates what Janet Howard, the organization’s president, referred to as “serious fairness issues” because disabled veterans who rent will not see any benefit.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans voters will weigh in on tax for business park

Oct 20, 2011

To its defenders, the 7,000-acre New Orleans Regional Business Park can be one of the city’s most important tools for promoting economic development. To its critics, the eastern New Orleans park has failed for 30 years to prove that its potential can be turned into reality. Instead, it has been the subject of frequent unfavorable publicity because of management turmoil, political squabbles and ethical problems.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Election recommendations in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes propositions: An editorial

Oct 20, 2011

As the Bureau of Governmental Research noted, the park has accomplished very little, and businesses that pay the tax haven’t benefited from it in services or infrastructure.

Source: The Times-Picayune

St. Tammany Parish voters to decide disabled veterans homestead exemption referendum Oct. 22

Oct 10, 2011

Last fall, the government watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research estimated that 2,500 veterans statewide would qualify. The BGR opposed the constitutional amendment, in part saying it was the federal government’s role to provide benefits to veterans and noting that a provision in the amendment prevents local governments from replacing lost revenue through other measures.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Fox 8 Investigation prompts swift action by N.O. Assessor

Jul 31, 2011

“There’s a list of approximately 15 entities that receive some part of your taxes,” said Janet Howard, President/CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans.

Source: Fox 8

Dedicated Renewals

Apr 26, 2011

The proposition would renew the current 2.91 mills and increase the millage rate by a scant 0.59 mills — to a total rate of 3.5 mills. While renewal of the tax would produce a marginal property tax increase — literally pennies a day for a typical homeowner — failure to renew the measure would leave the Department of Juvenile Services without a dedicated funding source. The nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR), which supports this measure, noted that without it the department’s work would “fall to a thinly funded state office.”

Source: Gambit

Voters asked to renew tax for drainage

Apr 26, 2011

Renewing the millage will translate to an upswing in tax bills for property owners. Over the years, the Parish Council has rolled the tax back from 5 mills to 3.6 mills. Approval Saturday would return the tax to 5 mills. The Bureau of Governmental Research estimates that the owner-occupants of a house valued at $150,000 would pay $10 more a year and a house at $250,000 would pay $24 more.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Capella takes oath as assessor; ALSO: BGR backs tax renewals; Early voting starts Saturday

Apr 14, 2011

The Bureau of Governmental Research on Tuesday endorsed four tax renewals that Jefferson Parish voters will face on the April 30 ballot.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Tax panel considers homestead exemption

Mar 22, 2011

As of Wednesday, the commission’s latest draft resolution recommends lawmakers “be reminded” of “the problems created” by the homestead exemption, which is highest in the nation, according to the commission. Echoing the Bureau of Governmental Research, the commission also criticizes lawmakers for shortchanging a revenue sharing fund meant to offset the exemption’s impact.

Source: CityBusiness

To Tax or Not To Tax Is Not The Question, But How?

Mar 17, 2011

NOLA.com reports that the Bureau of Governmental Research calculated for its study that “43 percent of the total assessed value of property in Orleans Parish is exempt from taxation, with nearly one-quarter of the exempt property escaping taxes because it is owned by nonprofit groups.”

Source: The Nonprofit Quarterly

City tax system changes suggested

Mar 17, 2011

About half of tax-exempt property in New Orleans is owned by the government, with the remainder split between property protected by state-authorized exemptions for homeowners and a broad range of nonprofits including universities, churches and cultural groups, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Report: Nonprofit tax exemption needs more focus

Mar 16, 2011

The constitutionally enshrined nonprofit tax exemption needs stricter focus and local jurisdiction, according to a new report by the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: CityBusiness

Jeff prepares tax break for disabled veterans

Mar 16, 2011

The veterans’ exemption didn’t pass the Legislature last year without opposition. The Bureau for Governmental Research argued that veterans’ benefits are a federal jurisdiction and that the state law unfairly excludes veterans who don’t own property and the families of service members killed in action.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Blanket tax breaks knocked

Mar 16, 2011

With Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Tax Fairness Commission continuing to examine New Orleans’ property and sales tax systems, a governmental research organization issued a report Tuesday urging major changes in the system of routinely awarding property tax exemptions to private schools and universities, churches, charities and other nonprofit organizations.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Tulane Ed Institute Weighs In on Orleans Taxes

Mar 1, 2011

The Cowen Institute’s review draws from information in a recent report from the New Orleans watchdog group, Bureau for Governmental Research, as well as other studies. The institute does not agree, however, with BGR’s call to eliminate the homestead exemption in New Orleans, saying too many exemptions for nonprofits and too many unfairly assessed properties are the major issues.

Source: The New York Times

City Hall faults itself on taxes

Feb 24, 2011

Janet Howard of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a local watchdog, offered a critical assessment of several agency policies, among them a lack of consistent criteria for qualifying projects and the fact that the board does not need the blessing of local taxing bodies before it absolves developers from local taxes.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New citywide assessor taking new look at NOLA properties

Feb 17, 2011

“Historically, there’s been a serious under-assessment of property and uneven assessment of property in this city,” said Janet Howard, President and CEO of the independent Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: WWLTV

Louisiana’s nonprofit exemptions in crosshairs of tax review

Feb 10, 2011

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a longtime critic of the exemption, offers other suggestions should the administration wish to circumvent the legislature. They include asking nonprofits for voluntary “payments in lieu of taxes,” or PILOTs and parcel fees.

Source: CityBusiness

Tax panel looks at nonprofits

Feb 4, 2011

Janet Howard of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a critic of the exemption, told the group the waiver exempts not only major landowners like churches and universities, but much else as well, including property owned by nonprofit groups organized for “burial, charitable, health, welfare and fraternal” purposes.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Clock is ticking for Tax Fairness Commission to find answers

Feb 3, 2011

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Tax Fairness Commission held its first meeting today, with presentations by the city’s chief economist, Jerome Lomba, and Bureau of Governmental Research CEO Janet Howard. The presentations and ensuing discussion offered a rare level detail about the city’s various tax systems.

Source: CityBusiness

New Orleans new Tax Fairness Commission meets for the first time Thursday

Feb 2, 2011

The 11 a.m. meeting on the 8th floor of New Orleans City Hall will feature presentations by Jerome Lomba, the city’s chief economist, and Janet Howard of the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Tenants around Lake Forest Plaza wait for signs of life

Jan 26, 2011

The City Council subsequently approved tax-increment financing, which would divert tax revenue to developers. But the council conditioned its approval on a matching agreement from the state, which remains under consideration. The controversial TIF arrangement drew opposition from the Bureau of Governmental Research and divided community and business leaders in eastern New Orleans.

Source: CityBusiness

Suit settled over assessor records

Jan 19, 2011

The Bureau of Governmental Research has settled the lawsuit it filed against the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors last month for what it said was the assessors’ failure to turn over public records at a reasonable price.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Watchdog group settles lawsuit with Orleans assessor over public records

Jan 18, 2011

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.

Source: WWLTV

Seven-assessor system in New Orleans ‘was responsive, but not necessarily responsible’

Jan 2, 2011

The consolidation of assessors in New Orleans is “only a first step toward reform,” said Janet Howard, president of the watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Homestead exemption loses its champion with retirement of Jeff Parish Assessor Lawrence E. Chehardy

Jan 2, 2011

The Bureau of Governmental Research watchdog group issued a report on raising the exemption in 2009 that also criticized the tax break in general. The report noted that proposals to elevate the covered amount also likely would come with tax rate increases to ensure the plans are revenue-neutral to public services, amounting to a major tax increase for businesses and the affluent.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Williams sworn in as the city’s sole assessor

Jan 1, 2011

“The part of concern is taking two of the former assessors and putting them as key members of the administration,” said Janet Howard of the Bureau of Governmental Research. “I think that’s where the question of whether it’s too much of the old culture.”

Source: WWLTV

Editorial: Overcharging for tax data

Dec 17, 2010

New Orleanians have had to push most city assessors toward more equitable and fair assessments — and the Bureau of Governmental Research has played an important role in championing reform.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Board of Assessors responds to legal threat

Dec 15, 2010

In response to threatened litigation by the Bureau of Government Research, the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors issued a statement saying that it had attempted work with BGR on its request for property records dating back to March.

Source: CityBusiness

Nonprofit Sues Tax Assessors in New Orleans

Dec 15, 2010

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.”

Source: The Nonprofit Quarterly

Tax Fairness Commission has tough task ahead

Dec 14, 2010

“They have got a lot of work to do,” Bureau of Governmental Research CEO Janet Howard said. “You are going to have to have some hard numbers, and that’s very difficult to come by.”

Source: CityBusiness

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

Dec 14, 2010

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.”

Source: The Times-Picayune

Watchdog group files public records suit against Orleans assessors

Dec 14, 2010

Calling thousands of dollars in fees for public records “unreasonable,” the Bureau of Governmental Research filed suit Tuesday against the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors.

Source: WWLTV

One Orleans Parish office sued, one struggling to restore records

Dec 14, 2010

The Bureau of Government Research is filing a lawsuit against the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors after repeated requests for the 2010 property tax roll, dating back to March, were unheeded at a reasonable price, the group said in a price release.

Source: CityBusiness

City seeks fairness in taxes

Dec 13, 2010

Janet Howard, who heads up BGR, applauds the creation of the commission.

“The tax structure in New Orleans is terribly flawed. It is a problem when it comes to providing adequate services and meeting our infrastructure needs,” Howard said. “We still have a problem with assessments being fair and equitable. That’s something that has to be straightened out and then you have the question of exemptions, and whether they’re too broad or they’re being too broadly interpreted, and how they impact the base.”

Source: WWLTV

Mayor Landrieu wants to address tax inequities

Dec 9, 2010

According to the Bureau of Governmental Research, only about 35 percent of New Orleans property owners actually pay taxes. That’s what the mayor wants to address.

Source: WWL

Council OK’s Saturday meeting to raise taxes

Dec 8, 2010

Mayor Landrieu says his spending plan includes two mills dedicated to NORD, which should provide over $5 million to recreation. The Bureau of Governmental research says while the Saturday meeting is unusual, it’s not taking a position on the tax increases.

Source: Fox 8

Bigger N.O. tax increase readied

Dec 8, 2010

Landrieu said the idea of a parking fee increase, which was proposed recently by Bureau of Governmental Research President Janet Howard, “had some merit” but he “would have had to exercise a very small veto” if the council had passed it.

Source: The Times-Picayune

City Council approves budget

Dec 2, 2010

Bureau of Governmental Research President Janet Howard said such a plan is almost finished and the council should consider whether the water board’s need for more money is in fact greater than the city’s.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Council raises taxes, trash fee; further trash hike on way

Dec 1, 2010

But while Bureau of Governmental Research director Janet Howard warned against the council’s decision to freeze the Sewerage & Water Board taxing rate, Gentilly homeowner Steve Donahue challenged the city’s right to take more money from homeowners who chose to return to the city after Hurricane Katrina. Donahue, who is disabled and lives on a fixed income, said that he is making sacrifices to pay his own bills while also “bearing the burden of supporting the city.”

Source: The Lens

Property tax likely to rise in N.O.

Nov 29, 2010

While the non-profit, independent Bureau of Governmental Research doesn’t have an official stance on rolling millage forward, it did send an open letter to Landrieu suggesting ways the city can tighten its budget and bring in revenue instead of rolling forward millage rates.

Source: WWLTV

Measure gives tax break to veterans

Oct 20, 2010

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a government watchdog group, estimated about 2,500 veterans would qualify for the extra exemption across Louisiana. O’Brien estimated the number at 3,000 to 4,000, which he argued would result in a negligible loss of revenue for tax-collecting agencies. O’Brien and Pope also emphasized that local voters will get the chance to decide whether they want to participate.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Amendment limits some tax increases

Oct 20, 2010

Another watchdog group, the Bureau of Governmental Research, said it usually criticizes state limitations on local financial decisions, but it took no position on this amendment because the case for such limits is stronger when applied only to appointed officials.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Should universities be exempt from taxes on pricey property?

Oct 19, 2010

Mayor Mitch Landrieu is appointing a commission that will study tax exemptions in the city. The group will take a hard look at non-profits like universities and churches to identify situations where they may be exempt, but shouldn’t be.

Janet Howard, President and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research, or BGR, applauds the move.

Source: WWLTV.com

Attorney for waste collection firms says city has no wiggle room

Oct 19, 2010

Sales tax collection has been “identified as an area of weakness” in city government, Bureau of Governmental Research CEO Janet Howard said. An upcoming BGR report on city contracts shows that Nagin, before he left office, invested $225,000 in 115 additional audits that obtained an additional $2.1 million in sales tax revenues, Howard said.

Source: CityBusiness

Voters to decide on property issues

Oct 19, 2010

Analyses of all the constitutional amendments are available on the websites of the Public Affairs Research Council, www.la-par.org, and the Bureau of Governmental Research, www.bgr.org. PAR takes no position on any of the amendments. BGR opposes No. 5 and supports Nos. 7 and 8.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Ill budget wind has blown this way before

Oct 16, 2010

Quoting from a report by the Bureau of Governmental Research, Landrieu offered these dire observations: “The city of New Orleans faces a fiscal crisis. The future is here. General fund expenditures have gone up to support current services, meet urgent needs and clean up after the hurricane. … Long-accumulating cost pressures have broken through.”

Source: The Times-Picayune

Homestead break costs parishes

Jun 9, 2010

Under a little-known provision in the state Constitution, the state is supposed to reimburse parishes, cities and other local agencies for the money lost due to the exemption, but in 2009 the state provided only $90 million for that purpose — just 12.5 percent of the $716 million lost statewide because of the exemption, the Bureau of Governmental Research said in a report.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Kenner council to consider TIF taxing district to lure Target to The Esplanade mall

Apr 6, 2010

But officials with the New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group, take a dim view of TIFs. Janet Howard, BGR’s president, didn’t speak to Kenner’s plan specifically but said part of the concern with TIFs is that they could be a “zero-sum gain from a regional point of view,” meaning that the revenue is just moving from one area to another. TIFs sometimes are unnecessary subsidies for big businesses and could hurt smaller businesses, she said.

Source: The Times-Picayune

A major change is quietly developing in City Hall: the move to a single assessor

Mar 29, 2010

If Williams hires any of the current district assessors, there is sure to be an outcry from the reform-minded wing that supported Lemle’s candidacy, and from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research, which has closely tracked the assessors’ performances. Williams cannot make a fresh start if he retains the most visible faces of the old system, said BGR’s president and CEO Janet Howard.

Source: The Times-Picayune

State senator, business partners get sweet tax assessment

Mar 17, 2010

But keep in mind, as Janet Howard, president and chief executive officer of the Bureau of Governmental Research, points out someone has to pay for the services government provides.

Source: WWLTV

Is everyone paying their fair share of taxes in St. Tammany?

Mar 1, 2010

“When it’s assessed at use value, it’s assessed at a lower level than it would be for fair market value,” said Janet Howard, president and chief executive officer of the non-profit Bureau of Governmental Research watchdog group.

Source: WWLTV

Numerous variables affect outcome of evaluations

Feb 28, 2010

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group, echoes the sentiment.

“The Tax Commission’s ratio studies do not always paint an accurate picture of assessor performance,” according to a recent BGR report on changing property-assessment practices in New Orleans. “The Tax Commission often includes assessments that have already been adjusted to the sale. This undermines the validity of the studies.”

Source: The Times-Picayune

Opinion: Assessor must cut ties with past

Feb 26, 2010

Speaking at a Bureau of Governmental Research breakfast Tuesday, Williams defended Mauberret’s assessment of the W Hotel, adding more fuel to the speculation that the outgoing 2nd District assessor would have a place in Williams’ office.

Source: CityBusiness

Assessor-elect considers retaining Mauberret, Mire

Feb 26, 2010

Newly elected citywide assessor Erroll Williams raised eyebrows at a recent Bureau of Governmental Research meeting when he launched into an unprompted defense of 2nd District Assessor Claude Mauberret’s appraisal of the W Hotel in the French Quarter.

Source: CityBusiness

Newly elected Williams looking for more efficient assessor’s office

Feb 18, 2010

Janet Howard, head of the New Orleans based Bureau of Governmental Research, said there is concern over how Williams will build the new office and whether he’ll use current assessors. The existing seven assessor model, which dates back to the 1870s, has established a sort of coziness between the public and assessors, according to Howard.

Source: WWLTV

Property assessments still can stray far from market prices in New Orleans

Jan 28, 2010

“The whole point of consolidating assessors was to institute a new system, to reform the system, to ensure that everyone is paying on the same basis,” said Janet Howard, president and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonpartisan think tank. “One of the questions voters need to pose is, when someone claims they are going to adopt reform is, why didn’t they do it before?”

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Elections: Assessor Candidate Janis Lemle

Jan 25, 2010

“Further, I will seek the assistance and advice of respected civic groups like the Bureau of Governmental Research, Public Affairs Research Council, Council for a Better Louisiana, etc., to form a watch committee, similar to Court Watch. This committee will have full access to the methods used and the information obtained by the Assessor’s Office and will have my full cooperation in answering any questions regarding the performance of my office.”

Source: BayouBuzz / Louisiana Weekly

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