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Amendment 7 merits approval

Constitutional Amendment 7 ­ a proposal to move New Orleans tax assessors from the 19th to 21st century ­ is the most important statewide issue on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The amendment would consolidate the seven tax assessors offices in Orleans Parish into one office and end an archaic system that smacks of ‘‘whoyou-know’’ favoritism.
Constitutional Amendment 7 is a second major piece of a reform movement sweeping New Orleans. In September, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment that consolidates 23 levee boards in the southeastern region of the state into two boards.
The assessors’ office consolidation is long overdue.
There’s no logical reason why Orleans Parish should have seven assessors when the other 63 parishes in the state each have one assessor. In fact, there are fewer properties in Orleans Parish to be assessed than in Jefferson or East Baton Rouge parishes.
The bloated system has resulted in assessments that have explanations other than pure favoritism. A 2003 investigation by the New Orleans Times-Picayune found that the market value of property in one assessors’ district was 116 percent higher than the assessed value. In another district, the market value of property was 43 percent above the assessed value.



September 2006