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Assessing problems 

Bill would double time for property TAX open rolls

  Orleans Parish Assessor Erroll G. Williams says he wants to do something about the long lines in his office during the first two weeks of August, when assessors' tax rolls are open for public inspection. Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans, will introduce the required legislation during the upcoming legislative session that convenes April 8.

  The "open rolls" period refers to the once-a-year window (Aug. 1-15) when property owners can argue their assessment values directly with the assessor. The proposed legislation would essentially double the amount of days in the open rolls period.

  "This is part of our effort to make this office as user-friendly and accessible as possible," Williams says. "One of the consequences of the consolidation [of the seven former city assessors offices into one] was the sticker shock many homeowners underwent as we brought their valuations up to reflect current market values, causing inordinately long waits to speak to our staff members."

  Brossett's bill will allow the assessor's office to accept appeals through the Board of Review throughout the open rolls period plus another three business days following the closing of the rolls.

  Since taking office as the city's sole assessor in 2011, Williams says he has added a new customer service center to handle visits from property owners and their representatives as well as a "sophisticated" website to disclose assessment information online.

  "Our first priority was to bring property assessments to a standard of fairness with transparency," he says, adding that 85 percent of the city's properties have been reassessed since he was sworn in. — Jeremy Alford


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