If you don’t like something, change it.
That mantra fuels Anthony Brown’s campaign for the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office. The local business owner says that, if elected, he will work with state leaders to push for the removal of property taxes on the taxpayer’s primary domicile.
“I don’t think that property owners should pay ad valorem taxes,” Brown says. “What is happening now is we have elected officials who are making deals, giving (big business) a tax break and putting it on we, the people.”
Issues with his own property taxes and what he describes as a lack of responsive from the Assessor’s Office also fuels his decision to run.
Brown says that, if elected, he will make certain that the residents of Orleans Parish know that he answers to them.
“I know that I will dedicate so much of my time telling people about their rights. People are so busy in their every day lives, they have forgotten what’s in their contract. Written in Article 1, section 1 is that government is their to protect their individual freedom. I will be a servant to the people. You are the boss.”
Carlos J. Hornbrook
Carlos Hornbrook says his combination of professional experience and community activism will make him an ideal assessor.
“I am a real estate agent and a real estate broker, I’m a financial planner. You really need to know how to appraise houses, says Hornbrook. “Secondly, I’m an attorney, so I’m familiar with Louisiana law. I own an employee benefits company. And the most important thing, I’m a community activist and I’m very familiar with the problems of the city.”
Making sure that businesses and corporations pay their fair share of property taxes is one way to ensure that residential owners aren’t overburdened, Hornbrook says.
“Currently it’s not fair. Everyone is paying 30 to 40 percent more than what their property is worth. For some reason, the current assessor gave the hotels a 57 percent tax break,” Hornbrook says referring to a controversial tax cut the Assessor’s Office granted to commercial property owners earlier this year.
If elected, Hornbrook says he would work to fairly assess property across Orleans Parish, adding that he is committed to using every available tool to achieve his goal.
“In Louisiana revised statue 47:23:23 it says you can generate revenue through comparable value, sale prices in neighborhoods, and construction costs. If you do all three fairly, you should be able to have fair assessments for individual owners and commercial owners.”
Good customer service and ensuring that taxpayers have positive experiences at the Assessor’s Office will also be a priority for Hornbrook, he says.
“You have to be kind and respectful,” he says.
Erroll Williams says his vast experience makes him the right choice to continue to lead the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office.
“I’m an accountant with a degree from Dillard University. I received my MBA from Tulane University. I’ve been the finance director for the City of New Orleans. And I’ve been an assessor for the last 36 years,” Williams says. “I look back at my time in the office, and I promised everyone that I would be fair, that I would be transparent.”
His biggest accomplishment, William says, is bringing consistency to assessments across the city since seven offices were combined into a single Assessor’s Office for the entire parish.
“Before that, we were all over the place when it came down to approaches. Now you have one consistent approach. We go through each neighborhood. We determine the values of the houses and we apply those values to everyone in the neighborhood.”
Still, Williams says he understands that taxpayers are not always happy with their assessments.
“I admit that it’s not an exact science. But I encourage people to take advantage of the appeals process.”
Williams touts his role in advocating for changes designed to help taxpayers since he has become the sole assessor for Orleans Parish, including establishing permanent freezes on assessments based on age or disability. Giving taxpayers more time to examine and question their valuations is another administration accomplishment, he says.
“Ten years ago, when we went to the Assessor’s Office, we averaged 7000 people in a two-week period. I went to Baton Rouge and got the law changed so that people would have up to 30 days to answer. We also installed district offices or what I call satellite offices so people can bring their appeals there instead of City Hall.”
William says that, if re-elected, he will continue to work with other elected officials to advocate for state legislation that helps keep assessments manageable for property owners.