Jul 18, 2013 7:30 PM by Chris Welty

Audit Raises Questions

A new statewide audit by the Louisiana Tax Commission raises major questions about the accuracy of property assessments.

The auditor cites examples of property tax bills on similar homes in the same neighborhoods varying by 100 percent or more.

Officials investigated whether each parish's overall assessed value, based on the average property assessment, is within the nine to eleven percent range set by state law.

Every parish in Acadiana fell outside the state mandated nine to eleven percent threshold. In Lafayette, more than a quarter of the properties sampled were assessed at values that were not uniform with local fair market value. The auditor found that parishes were not directed to re-appraise properties that missed the target.

Twenty one percent of properties in 33 parishes had the same fair market value in 2012 as in 2007. The highest percentage of those were in Madison, Ouachita and Ascension Parishes.

"When you look at individual accounts, yeah, some are going to be high and some will be low. As long as you're in that range in all of your accounts, then you've passed the ratio study. That's really what's required by law," said Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux.

Here's the other Acadiana Parishes:
Parish Percent Outside 9-11%
Evangeline 58.7
Vermilion 45.6
Iberia 30.2
Lafayette 28.7
Acadia 28.4
St. Landry 28.4
St. Martin 20.8
Jeff Davis 19
St. Mary 0.7

Comeaux says a higher-valued home could have a swimming pool or lavish upgrades, while a lower valued home could have termite damage or un-repaired storm problems. He says if you feel your home is wrongly assessed and you're paying more than your neighbor, they'll re-access your property, but chances are you'll be paying more money in property taxes.

Chris Welty



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