Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wall Street Journal Editorial on New Orleans Property Taxes

It's entitled Property Tax Flood: The Real Battle of New Orleans.
To stop local governments from collecting tax windfalls when property values spike, the state requires local governments to roll back property tax rates in hot housing markets. But this being New Orleans, the city has followed the law in the past by cutting property tax rates only to immediately raise them again. Mayor Ray Nagin refuses to rule out playing the same game this year. His office wouldn't answer our questions on the issue, referring us instead to the city's tax assessors.

Notwithstanding Mr. Nagin, there is an opportunity for leadership here. The biggest threat facing New Orleans beyond another hurricane is that too few people will return to the city. The city's population is about 60% of what it was pre-Katrina, and many former residents still seem to prefer living in FEMA trailers to returning home. High property taxes don't help. Or as former Governor Huey Long once quipped, "one day the people of Louisiana are going to get good government--and they aren't going to like it."

The City Council will likely cut property taxes and Council President Arnie Fielkow is taking the lead in meeting with homeowners to discuss the issue. What the Council must now decide is whether to give homeowners a strong reason not to flee the city before their property tax bills come due later this year.

1 comment:

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