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House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. (Donna Price / American Press)

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. (Donna Price / American Press)

Kleckley bill would help home owners hit with high property tax increase

Last Modified: Monday, April 29, 2013 7:12 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — A House committee on Monday approved two proposed constitutional amendments by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, one of which phases in property assessments over a three-year period if the assessment is more than 15 percent higher than the previous year.

The House Ways and Means Committee reported House Bill 514 favorably. It heads to the House floor for consideration.

Under the measure, a homeowner with a $3,000 property tax bill increase would pay only $1,000 the first year, $2,000 the second year and the full amount the third year. Kleckley said the formula would be less of a burden on homeowners, including those in Calcasieu Parish who saw assessments “way over the 15-percent mark.”

“It’s fair to the taxpayers and to the citizens of the state,” Kleckley said. “It’s a very reasonable and logical way to move forward with the assessment.”

Kleckley said local lawmakers received many calls from homeowners who were concerned about having to pay thousands of dollars in increased property taxes.

He said he heard from one constituent who had a month to pay a tax bill that had increased by $3,000.

“He said, ‘I’m on a fixed income, (and) I have no way to pay that,’” Kleckley said. “This is just one example of the numerous phone calls dealing with this issue.”

Kleckley said the measure does not apply to new construction or to homes that are improved in an effort to increase the value.

The measure was approved with some amendments, including one that would prevent local governing authorities from rolling millages forward if a phase in occurs.

The committee also reported House Bill 369 favorably. It requires the annual tax assessor’s notice to include property tax assessments and values for the current year and the previous year.

It also requires the Louisiana Assessor’s Association to create a uniform design for the notices that clearly shows the change in value.

Kleckley said that each parish designs its notices differently, and that some are difficult to understand. He compared the notice to looking “like an invitation to Toledo Bend to buy some property, and if you show up you get a cruise to Jamaica.”

“I typically just throw this kind of stuff away,” Kleckley said.

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. If approved, they would go to the voters in an election.

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