Property tax collections drop $3.6 million
posted Thursday, November 16th, 2006 @ 6:51 am
The burden from the loss of State Farm Insurance and North Monroe Hospital on the parish tax rolls was evident in the recent assessment conducted by the Ouachita Parish Assessor's Office.
Parish assessor Rich Bailey said the total tax dollars collected on the 2006 parish tax roll decreased $3.6 million, from $68,892,280.62 in 2005 to $65,214,686.29 in 2006.
"The loss of State Farm and North Monroe hospital has affected the natural growth of the tax base," Bailey said Tuesday.
North Monroe gained a not-for-profit status when it was bought by St. Francis Medical Center and is now tax-exempt. State Farm closed its corporate offices here.
"Normal growth in the past years has been in the two and a half percent range, but for 2006, it is only seven tenths of one percent.
"Except for the East Ouachita Recreation Maintenance increase in millage (which was a new vote at .00750) all other increases in millage rates resulted from millage rate adjustments due to the loss in assessable value from State Farm.
"Also, the State Farm property and the North Monroe Hospital property became exempt because they are now owned by non-profit organizations," Bailey said.
Several local governmental entities increased their millage rates to prepare for the expected decrease in revenue.
Property owners in Monroe will see a slight increase in their taxes because the Monroe City Council approved an increase its millage rates on all taxable property shown on the city's assessment roll for 2006.
David Barnes, Monroe's director of administration, said millage rates on all taxable property on the 2006 tax roll will be increased 2.15 mills.
Monroe's overall property has dropped in value by roughly $30 million, Barnes told The Ouachita Citizen in September.
The reduction is due in large part to State Farm Insurance and North Monroe Hospital falling off the city's tax rolls, he said.
Property owners in the city of Monroe who own a home valued at $100,000 will see a $21 increase in annual property taxes.
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury chose not to increase millage rates during an October meeting.
Because of this, Brad Cammack, Police Jury treasurer, said the parish will be forced to cut expenses and services.
Parish departments that operate on ad valorem taxes must now find ways to function with less money this year.
Services already are being cut throughout those departments to compensate for these changes, Cammack told The Ouachita Citizen at a Police Jury meeting in October.
The Ouachita Correctional Center stands to lose about $284,000. A property tax proposal failed in the Sept. 30 elections that would have provided funds for operations at OCC. The Police Jury most likely will bring another tax proposal to voters within six months to address OCC concerns, Cammack said.
The Police Jury could have increased millage rates, but Cammack said jurors felt most residents are against any tax increase at this time.
The Police Jury recently got voter approval on tax increases to fund Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center and fire department operations.
Those new taxes, plus the failure of the OCC property tax, were reasons why the jury did not increase the millage rates this time, Cammack said.
"The message from the voters is they do not want an increase in taxes," Cammack said.
The parish tax roll was filed with the Louisiana Tax Commission on Nov. 1.
The 2006 tax roll does show an increase in assessed taxable value over last year of $5,119,097, Bailey said.
The total assessed value, including homestead exemption value, increased $9,223,371.
Some millage rates remained the same as last year and some increased, Bailey said.
Total city school millages went down .00137.
Bailey urged taxpayers who may have concerns regarding their assessments or property taxes to contact his office immediately. The deadline for paying property taxes is Dec. 31.
Anyone with questions regarding their assessed value can call the Assessor's Office at 327-1300.
Questions regarding the payment of property taxes should be made to the tax collector at 329-1280.