Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Appeal of the Appeal of the Property Taxes - The Last Dance

We had the hearing on Erroll Williams' appeal of my appeal of the incorrect appraisal of my property taxes today.

The appeal was held at the Homewood Suites in a meeting room on the second floor. I had been there before for a meeting. There was a sign in table and a person who checked for your hearing date and time. There was a fairly comfortable waiting area.

I got there early so I could observe a few of the hearings before mine. It was very informal but more formal than the hearings at the Super Dome. Everyone was sworn and the hearings recorded. Generally the Hearing Officer sat behind a table with a computer and apparently had access to the Internet to check things during the hearing. The Assessor or his (or her) representative was present as well. The typical hearing took fifteen or twenty minutes.

The first thing I learned was that you can download your appraisal from the Tax Commission New Orleans Appeals website. I didn't know that and I'm glad I didn't because it was wrong. It was so wrong that the Hearing Officer immediately said the appraisal was not valid. If I'd known that before, it would have worried me. The Tax Commission Appraisal included comparables nowhere near my house and outside my neighborhood, one more than a mile away.

I was able to locate 3 comparables on my block, one next door to my house in a few minutes on the Internet. The Hearing Office consulted a different database than I had and determined that my comparables were valid. I wonder how much the bungled appraisal cost?

Between the three of us we quickly arrived at an agreement. The Board of Review had for some reason decided to adjust my land value and split the value of the improvements and the land. I had requested that they keep the land value and simply adjust the improvements. Today we changed the land value back and raised the total value slightly from the Board of Review number which was slightly higher than our request. Everyone came away happy, I think.

The assessors seem to have collectively decided that maintaining consistency in land values is of overarching significance, even it the total value is what counts for taxes. It seem sto be a major point of contention as well.

I think its over. The Hearing Officer, the representative from the assessors office and I agreed on a number, $6,000 higher than the last number but within a reasonable range.

I don't think I'll have to go to Court.

This whole thing could have been worked out with the Assessor if there had been a concerted effort by the Assessor to meet with people during this process.

Now all I have to do is wait until April or May for the Tax Commission to act and then wait three or four months for the City to send me another revised bill.


Leigh C. said...

I'd say, "Phew!", except, unfortunately, I know things are never that easy in this town. Glad you got your hearing.

Puddinhead said...

"...and then wait three or four months for the City to send me another revised bill."

Or, if they (Williams' office) is as efficient as they were in our case, wait until the following year when the City sends you a property tax bill based on the wrong figures. Then you can go back to Williams' office with the documentation that the value had been re-set and hear they say "Well, there's no record that it was ever changed in the system like it should have been." LOL I hope the tax office is as patient as they were when we thought the assessed value was being corrected the first time (hadn't applied the Homestead Exemption). Five months after we thought we'd had the value corrected the first time we still hadn't received a corrected tax bill, so a went on into the tax office to check into it. In typical New Orleans fashion the woman said, "Five months? Baby, those folks probably haven't even looked at it yet. You'll get a bill when we get a value."

mominem said...

I had pretty much the same experiance. They lost our homestead exemption for 2007 and so they never sent out the form for 2008. The city had the wrong mailing address so the tax bill never arrived.

It took three trips and four months to get that straight.

At the hearing the Assessors Representative actually said they may not send out a revised bill till next year. I didn't include that because I didn't want to be too hard on them.

There is actually another chapter to this story, that isn't over yet.