One thing in life is sure – everyone will pay taxes.
With property taxes, the story is a little different. Some will pay, some will not. So where does all that money go?
Webster Parish Tax Assessor Morris Guin says property taxes are split among several agencies, but in order to know where they go, what it is and how it is calculated must be understood.
“We assess everything over the entire parish,” Guin said. “Every four years, we have a reassessment. It’s virtually impossible to assess everything in four years, so we continually assess all the time.”
One mill is one tenth of one cent.
“If a house sells for $300,000 today, and we have it as worth $200,000, we’ll have to go do an assessment of that area to bring everything up in that area,” he said.
It’s more of a balance, he said. For example, if the Webster Parish School Board decides it wants to build a new school in the Minden district, they will call the assessor’s office and ask for an assessment. If the assessed value is $10 million, then it would be 10 mills.
“Say they need $6 million to build the new school,” he said. “We need to know how many mills that is, and they can determine how many mills they need to pay for the school in ‘x’ number of years. It may be 15 or 20 years, usually.”
The idea is to keep everything balanced so governmental entities are not collecting too much money, as in the case of the Sarepta (Consolidated School District No. 1) school district. At one time, it was collecting way more than it should have, he said. In the beginning, they needed the higher millage rate in order to pay back the bond issue used to remodel the school. In 2013, the millage rate was 16 mills, but this year it decreased to 3 mills, because the bond had been paid back and that large amount was no longer needed, Guin said.
“If a lot of new stuff comes in, the millage rate will go down slightly,” he said. “Vice versa, if you lose a lot of business, then your millage rate has to go up to compensate for that loss. It’s got to be balanced on a bond issue.”
Property taxes are split among law enforcement, the assessment district, the library, courthouse, school tax, etc. These are parish-wide consolidated districts. This doesn’t count the North Webster Industrial District, the parish wide outside, inside, the fire districts and the municipalities. Forestry is also included in what is collected.
Parish wide in 2014, the law enforcement district collected 14.16 mills, an increase from 2013 at 13. 83 mill. The assessment district collected 5.15 mills in 2014, a decrease from 2013 at 7.51 mills. The library collected 12 mills in 2014, as compared to 12.35 mills in 2013. The courthouse, etc., collected 2.78 mills in 2014 and collected the same in 2013. The school tax stayed the same as well at 15.39 mills. Total parish wide consolidated for 2014 was 49.48 mills, a decrease from 2013 at 51.86 mills.
Guin said he decreased the assessor’s office collection by 2 mills, which saved around $500,000. Saving money does not mean the assessor’s office will cut property owners a check. Instead, he said, this means property owners will not pay as much in property taxes when their bill comes due.
Another thing Guin wanted the public to understand is property owners will pay taxes based on the millage rate in their district. For example, if a property owner has a house worth $400,000 in Shongaloo, that owner’s taxes will be different than another homeowner whose home is worth $400,000 in Minden. It’s based on the millage rate in their district.
If the millage rate for a home in Shongaloo is 29 mills, and the millage rate in Minden is 7.51, for that same home, then the homeowner in Minden will pay less taxes, because the millage rate in Minden is lower.
A homeowner pays their taxes, for example, on a $100,000 home. After the homestead exemption of $75,000 has been subtracted, that homeowner only pays taxes on $25,000. If a homeowner does not have homestead exemption, then they pay the full amount. So, if they pay taxes on the $25,000, hypothetically $122 that year, that money will be split among the agencies listed above. The mills are based on what is needed in the district in which the homeowner lives.
That money is collected by the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, and at the allotted time, checks will be disbursed to the various agencies. The money collected by property taxes usually goes toward equipment for the law enforcement agencies, maintenance on school buildings or to the police jury for major road projects. It also goes to operational expenses for the library, upkeep and maintenance on properties owned by the governmental entities.