06 Dec 2022 Annual Budget Address from Assessor Louis Fitzmorris, CLA
To the Citizens of St. Tammany Parish:
This budget represents a renewed commitment to advancing the latest technology in the St. Tammany Parish Assessor’s Office to achieve the most accurate tax roll as efficiently as possible, while doing our absolute best to reduce taxes and serve our citizens.
Proudly, our Geographical Information System (GIS) and our new assessment program, Arist by Farragut, have progressed to substantial completion and moved into maintenance mode. Our aerial data, provided by Pictometry/Eagle View, will now perform flights in greater resolution, every other year. New office technology initiatives include True Roll monitoring and screening of Homestead Exemption and other applications, Business Personal Property audits, and CAI3 artificial intelligence to verify assessment data. Business Personal Property filings are going digital through Just Appraise, and electronic field data collection through Mobile Assessor, GIS, Papervision and Arist, as well as data portal parcel captures and loss-revenue calculations for non-profits, ITEP and Pilots, and electronic commercial zoning layers to for municipalities.
The original millage rate for STPAO was established in 1985 at 2.90 mills. From 2013 to 2020, my office reduced the maximum millage rate (the highest authorized rate that may be levied) from 2.73 to 2.61. And in 2016, a reassessment year, we did not roll forward, permanently reducing the millage rate by an additional .02 mills. The St. Tammany Parish Assessor’s Office permanently decreased the rate by .10 mills, saving taxpayers $250K annually.
In the past decade, we have even lowered millage rates below the adjusted max. This year, we increased millages from 2.47 to 2.49 in preparation for reassessment. This amounts to about a $50,000 increase in ad valorem taxes annually. However, the millage rate will be reduced in reassessment and the total tax revenue decreased when we do not roll up.
Among our tax-savings efforts, we also reduced our expense reimbursement budget from parish agencies by 20% this year, saving 100K. Revenue projections reflect increased interest rates on deposits, and slight .22% total ad valorem tax revenue growth.
Expenses reflect gearing up for 2024 reassessment while maintaining total salaries and benefits with a small decrease. We reduced capital outlay by 50% and reallocated between operating / professional expenses, with a 10% total increase in combined operating and professional expenses.
Moving forward, we have no plans to roll up to the maximum millage rate in 2023. At 2.49 mills, this will create a permanent decrease of .12 mills, and will save taxpayers an additional $300K annually. Our total reduction will be .24 mills permanently rolled off, and the projected annual permanent savings total is over 600K in 2024.
It is our mission to serve the citizens of St. Tammany Parish with fairness, efficiency and responsiveness. I am thankful for my team of dedicated employees who strive every day to accomplish this goal. The St. Tammany Parish Assessor’s Office has aggressively invested in technology while growing the tax base, lowering the millage and at the same time reducing taxes for our citizens.