New city budget balanced on rising property taxes makes some squirm

New city budget balanced on rising property taxes makes some squirm

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mayor Mitch Landrieu presented his final budget Monday, touting sounder finances than ever before.

The city's improved financial situation is partly due to rising property values, but that has led to higher taxes. And some believe they are out of whack with city services.

"I bought the house in 2007 and taxes have gone up steadily each year," said Mid-City homeowner Merwyn Miller.

Those taxes are based on property values, and the city's assessor says they are way up.

"I think we had over 300 properties over the last three years, that sold for over a million dollars," said Orleans Assessor Errol Williams.

Pre-Katrina, the assessor says that was a rarity, but historic areas like the Marigny, the French Quarter and Mid City are red hot.

"When they put the (Lafitte) Greenway in, all those properties that were selling for $75,000 to $100,000, now they're being renovated and they are in the $300,000 range," said Williams.

And some Mid-City homeowners are feeling the pinch.

"The Lafitte Greenway is a great idea, but there's not enough patrolling on it. There are people being robbed," said Miller.

"They've gone up four times what we used to pay," said another homeowner who asked not to be identified.

City property tax collections have risen around 3% a year for the past five years, driven in part, some believe, by investment in AirBnBs in the city's historic neighborhoods.

"Oh yeah, I think it's definitely making properties rise," said Miller.

This year, the mayor's budget is balanced on a $1.3 million property tax increase. That's actually less of an increase than in years past due to a new state law that limits property re-assessments to once every four years.

If anyone feels they are being unjustly treated when it comes to their property taxes, there is an appeals process, but it can be cumbersome.

"Look at the properties around them. If they feel that the properties have doubled and it's not worth it, they have to bring evidence that it doesn't fit the values of the neighborhood," said Williams.

Some residents we spoke with say they will file a challenge. But though many complain, they're staying put.

"I have no intention of going anywhere. I was born in New Orleans and I'm staying in New Orleans," said Miller.

Though many complain about city services, a recent survey showed that New Orleanians appear to be more satisfied with police service than they were previously.

Erroll Williams says a lot of people bought into the city post-Katrina, spending a lot of money on renovations which caused property values to soar and taxes to go up - whether a homeowner renovated or not.

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