Iberville Assessor’s staff explains the workings of their office

Tryve Brackin
NOW ON COMPUTER…Tax Assessor office staffers Sylvia Mendoza, left, and Katie Falcon, right, take a look at the old bookbinders where property tax rolls were once kept. In recent years everything has been computerized.

After two years and a couple of months as the Iberville Parish Tax Assessor, Randy Sexton and his staff find there are many misconceptions of the service the office provides and the functions its conducts each work day.

The function of the Assessor’s office is to find, list, and place value on all property in Iberville Parish.

“No one, and I mean no one, likes to pay taxes. It is American way to grip, but pay. It is a necessary evil that runs government. The funny thing about is most don’t mind paying taxes. What upsets them is what their neighbor is paying. My policy since I took over as assessor is to provide fair and honest assessment of property,” said Sexton in an interview last week.

Sexton used the example of someone who buys property and either remodels or rebuilds a new home, while the next door neighbor has not performed any upgrade or change to their property.

“I can’t see us raising the property tax and upping the property value of a neighbor’s house, but, at the same time, homeowners do like the see their property appreciate in value over time,” he said. “My main concern is to be fair and honest when facing each particular situation,” he added.

 “I believe equal houses will have equal value. But property value will increase with improvements to a home. And a small, not major, increase in property values is always good for the parish,” he noted.

Sexton commented that 45 percent of the property in Iberville is valued at less than $75,000 and the property owners in that range or below play zero parish taxes. “We are very lucky to live in Louisiana when it comes to property taxes. There are other states that assess such items and boats, lawn mowers, and barbeque pits.

Since taking over the Assessor’s Office, Sexton has continued the practice of the previous assessor in upgrading the system of assessing all commercial, private, and industrial property in the parish.

For many years the property rolls were kept in bookbinders and in file drawers. Then the age of computer records keeping came about and the Assessor’s Office went with the flow. Every property is listed on the assessor’s computer data rolls. And, over the last couple of years, the employees have been going around the parish taking photographs of the property. Along with the exact property measurements and structural data, almost all of the computer records now have photos of the structures on the parish properties.

“We are almost through getting everything photographed. We had to stop for a few weeks when tax season hit, but we are back at it. And, of course, it is a continuing event, both setting up files on new buildings or home structures and taking photos of them,” explained Deputy Assessor Clint Seneca.

Photos have been taken of all three types of structural property: Industrial plants and shops, retail and other commercial businesses, and private homes and added structures such as barns, etc. And, due to the rural nature of many portions of Iberville, there still is a lot of unknown property. It is part of the assessor’s office to get out and around and “find’ or “discover” unknown property and owners.

The Parish Clerk of Court’s Office notifies the Assessor’s Office of all property sales conducted, but it is up to owners to inform the Assessor of all losses of property. The office also receives information from building permits that are issued. Estate taxes can get a bit complicated because of the laws involved for new ownership.

“We assist all property owners when it comes to helping them understand taxes. We have made the office open and available to the public to explain each and every situation. We provide a courtesy call to those who are delinquent in paying their taxes, but it is up to the Sheriff’s Office to either collect or put property up for sale,” explained Sexton.

The Assessor basically assesses the value to parish property, while the Sheriff’s Office is the actually collector of taxes. Also, the Assessor’s office must get final approval of the taxes levied by the State Tax Commission. The local Assessor puts together the tax rolls and sends them to the commission for approval and the Sheriff’s Office takes it from there after approval for collection. “We work very closely with the State Tax Commission to iron out any problems that might occur,” said Sexton.

“A lot of government cost savings plans have been implemented. We now only send out Homestead Exemption information every four years, not yearly,” noted the Assessor.

The Tax Commission still requires re-appraisal every four years and the practice of both is to hold values to a steady rate with no real up or down changes in appraisals.

“Like I noted before, we are open to the public. If you want to do a property search in the parish, learn now about property taxes, or get on-going news information, go to our website that is www.ibervilleassessor.org,” explained Sexton.

MAKING CHANGE…Deputy Assessor Clint Seneca updates a recent transfer of property ownership in Iberville Parish for tax assessment purposes.