BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Election day is just a few weeks away and voters will have eight constitutional amendments on the ballot this November. Amendment number five seeks to change how property tax millages are collected.
A millage is a tax rate on the property tax levy. Things like school boards or a sheriff’s office can implement a millage with the approval of the voters to a certain percentage. Some also require approval from the state legislature.
Tax districts can lower or raise their millage within the maximum rate whenever they want. But there is a time limit of how long they can stay below the max rate between property assessments every four years.
“The constitution says that if a taxing district doesn’t levy that maximum rate again before the next reassessment you lose that adjustment in millage rate,” said Wendy Thibodaux the Lafourche Parish assessor.
Amendment 5 would do away with the requirement of using the max amount and allowing tax districts to keep lower millages, but keep the max rate as an option should they ever have to raise it again in the future. Thibodaux said it would help prevent over-taxing and help taxing districts be held accountable for their tax rates.
“What happens in fear because they don’t know what the future holds, a hurricane or something of that nature, so what they do is they’d rather be safe than sorry and they’ll levy the five mills and just hold on to that money,” Thibodaux said. “It’s sitting in a savings account where these districts have these enormous surpluses instead of putting it back into business.”
Those against the bill agree tax districts should “use it or lose it”. That if they are not in need of the maximum levy rate, they shouldn’t need it in the future. If they do, they can take it up with the legislature and the voters. Some also believe taxing districts should be able to build up a nest egg with the extra funds.
Election day is November 8.