The City of New Orleans has seven property tax assessors each assigned to one of the city's seven municipal districts. Every other parish in the state has one assessor responsible for property assessment within the bounds of his/her entire parish. The City of New Orleans' system originates from a time when the amount of properties in the city probably outnumbered or at least rivaled the total amount of properties combined in the other 63 Louisiana parishes outside of New Orleans, thus somewhat justifying the seven city divisions for administrative and record-keeping purposes because of the sheer volume. For the past thirty or so years-- mainly because of technological advances (computers, databases, etc.)--having seven separate assessors covering the City of New Orleans/Orleans Parish has probably not been necessary and certainly not fiscally (or politically) efficient. Not only does the current system breed wasteful duplicity but the system also breeds non-standardized property assessments (location-based under-assessments/over-assessments) which translates to inconsistent property tax bills not in proportion to the true worth of a property. This makes it possible, for example, that a high-dollar Uptown Victorian house owner pays less property tax than a middle-class suburban ranch home owner in Algiers. The Times-Picayune
did a special series in April 2004 dubbed "Dubious Value
" which discusses these issues in more detail.
To attempt to start the consolidation of the seven assessor offices into one, stream-lined operation (an amendment to the state constitution would be required to actually consolidate the Orleans Parish Assessor offices), a coalition called "the IQ Ticket" has been formed. The IQ Ticket (IQ stands for "I quit") places a stated IQ candidate in each of the seven municipal district assessor's election. According to their vow, any IQ candidate that manages to win will resign the position when and if the state constitution is amended for only one office.
It will be interesting to see how the IQ Ticket fares. City of New Orleans government consolidation has been on the docket for two Louisiana special sessions since KTMB and miraculously those bills died in committee before there could be any serious discussion about it. The IQ Ticket (read their site
) seeks to force this issue--at least in terms of property tax assessment--through the ballot box. The dual Orleans Parish court and sheriff systems are another whole deal in itself.CURRENT ORLEANS PARISH ASSESSORS BY MUNICIPAL DISTRICT/YEAR TAKEN OFFICE
(Source: The Times-Picayune
Municipal District 1 (11,000 parcels): Darren Mire, 2002-before 1985, a member of the Comiskey family held this position since 1935
Municipal District 2 (15,800 parcels): Claude Mauberret, 1994-a member of the Mauberret family has held this seat since 1904
Municipal District 3 (78,000 parcels): Erroll Williams, 1985-a member of the Hickey family held this position from 1952 until Williams got elected
Municipal District 4 (7,400 parcels): Betty Jefferson, 1998-a member of the Burke family held this position from 1941 until Jefferson got elected
Municipal District 5 (19,000 parcels): Tom Arnold, 1985-hand-picked by members of the Modenbach family who held this position from 1958
Municipal District 6 (56,000 parcels): Janyce Degan, 1981-a member of the Degan family has held this seat since 1936
Municipal District 7 (17,000 parcels): Henry Heaton, 1985-a member of the Heaton family has held this seat since 1936anybodybutbatt.com
If you live in the New Orleans area you have no doubt heard the Anybody But Batt commercials in heavy, heavy rotation on WWL Radio the past few weeks. Jay Batt
is of course the City Council District A incumbent running for his second term. In the 2002 election, Batt beat fellow-Lakeview resident Scott Shay in the runoff despite not gaining the majority in the primary election. If I remember correctly third-runner Sal Palmisano endorsed Batt in the runoff (correct me if I am wrong on this.) Most of the anti-Batt sentiment comes from the non-Lakeview areas of District A (Carrollton/Uptown/Mid City) where issues of neighborhood preservation reign supreme (as they should). Several controversial projects with Batt's approval and backing have been implemented during his tenure inflaming many Uptown. I voted for Shea back in 2002 and I am not sure which other candidate is in position to give Batt a runoff in post-KTMB 2006. Based on the amount of campaign signage out in the district, it looks maybe to be Palmisano who's running once again. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Scott Shea?
A historical review:COUNCIL DISTRICT A PRIMARY ELECTION, 2 FEBRUARY 2002:
Scott Shea 13,800 (48%)
Jay Batt 11,370 (39%)
Sal Palmisano 3,845 (13%)
No Palmisano, Shea likely wins outright in the primary. 700 more votes would have put him over 50%.COUNCIL DISTRICT A RUNOFF ELECTION, 3 MARCH 2002:
Jay Batt 15,152 (51%)
Scott Shea 14,697 (49%)
Shea gets more combined "popular" votes in the two elections, but it doesn't matter. Hey, that sounds familiar.