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

By 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.