NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The family home is something Lance Rodney has helped his father, Ernest care for and maintain for years, and he hoped to keep it in their family for generations to come.
“It’s family, it’s your neighborhood you grew up in, so you can’t take that away,” Rodney said.
The only problem is, when Rodney started looking at the new assessments for his father’s home, the total value increased by more than 100 percent. Now, he fears he may not even be able to afford his family home.
“If it’s too high for me to reach, my income sustainability may not reach at that goal of paying those taxes, so I might have to sell it,” Rodney said.
Rodney is one of dozens who came looking for help at a community meeting hosted by the Fairgrounds Triangle Neighborhood association Monday (Aug. 12). The group’s president, Morgan Clevenger, is helping her elderly and retirement-age neighbors understand their new, higher valuations.
She worries they will be overly burdened by the appeal process, but also those neighbors that neglect to apply for an age or disability freeze this year, will be locked into higher tax rates for 2020 as opposed to lower, 2019 rates.
“We got to decide what city we want to live in, we got to decide what we’re willing to do to keep us here, and we have to assert our power as New Orleanians and homeowners,” Clevenger said.
Those who wish to apply for an age, disability or veteran freeze on property taxes can do so. Orleans Parish assessor Erroll Williams said for those who already have freezes, they probably didn’t receive a notice of the 2020 valuations.
“We send notices out if they increase or decrease, we don’t send notices to people if that doesn’t change their assessment,” Williams said.
He said for those who already have freezes, they can appeal the 2020 valuation, but they may also have to reapply for another freeze -- this time at the 2020 rates.
“The assessment is one number that doesn’t change when you reach 65. The fair market value may change, that will go up and down," Williams said. "Some people have freezes and the value goes down, but we can’t change it, because it’s frozen unless they relinquish their freeze, and then reapply the next tax year,” Williams said.
Rodney said he’s seen how hard his father has worked, especially to build the home back after Katrina. He said he just hopes when the day comes, he can continue that work.
“If he passes away, then I’m going to take up the slack of the high taxes. Right now, he’s at a comfortable rate, but I’m not going to be grandfathered into that,” Rodney said.
Property owners who are 65 or older by Dec. 31 of this year can apply for a freeze by Aug. 22 to freeze their property tax rates at the 2019 levels.