Uptown residents scoff at higher property taxes on crumbling homes

Uptown residents scoff at higher property taxes on crumbling homes

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans homeowners who say drainage work is hurting their property value want a second look at their increasing property taxes.

"I thought they were kidding, you know?" resident Musheer Robinson said.

Robinson recently got a notice from the city saying his property taxes were increasing more than 125 percent despite his crumbling foundation and cracked walls - damage he believes was caused by the constant construction outside his home.  
He said his house, like many others along Jefferson Avenue, is falling apart due to the SELA project, an Army Corps of Engineers drainage improvement that has been ongoing for years in New Orleans.

"With a big city, I don't think they've driven the streets to think through this," Robinson said. "Look, we all know the city's under stress, but we've been going through this for three years with no access to all kinds of services. We've had to compromise. We have no where to park - not securely. People's cars get broken into."

On Thursday, Robinson organized a community meeting for residents in his position to speak with several city leaders and the Army Corps of Engineers, but the Corps did not attend, and neither did residents like Charles Napoli.

"We've been to many of the meetings. It's just a dog and pony show. We never get any answers," Napoli said.

He refuses to go to meetings concerning the damage to his home, even after spending more than $50,000 in repairs.

"We've had to patch cracks in the stucco, replace windowpanes that are cracked. We've had things fall off the shelves. We've had to reattach kitchen cabinets that were shaking off the walls," Napoli said.

But while some refuse to attend meetings, the Orleans Parish Assessor Erroll Williams did attend Robinson's meeting. He gave residents dealing with damaged homes but increased appraisals the opportunity to show his department the recent damage and possibly get their assessment adjusted.

"Some of them have (gotten adjustments)," Williams said, "because they have submitted construction repair reports and we've made the adjustments. We determine the fair market value. You make the adjustment on the amount of cost to repair that. That's the way you do it on the building, not on the land. The land value is pretty stable. It's not a cheap neighborhood."

Hundreds of homeowners remain involved in a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers and the Orleans Parish Sewerage and Water Board for what they allege is property damage caused by the construction.

The SELA project is expected to be completed in 2018.

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