By Paige Nash
The Webster Parish Assessor’s Annual Report for 2023 has been published and mailed.
In her introduction Webster Parish Tax Assessor Denise Edwards explains, “It is our goal to keep the citizens of Webster Parish informed and educated on the assessment process and the operations of the Assessor’s Office.”
This is the third Annual Report that details information regarding the assessment process, and how it is implemented and managed. It explains where the tax dollars are spent across districts, the police jury, public services, fire districts and municipalities. There is also a section informing which local agencies received tax dollars based on their millage and provides information on tax exemptions.
“In 2022, the Assessment District millage rate was lowered again with plans to lower it again for 2023,” said Edwards. “This will save the taxpayers another $500,000, bringing the total savings to $1.5 million dollars within the last three years.”
The report breaks down the changes in assessed values over the years with easy-to-understand graphs, as well as tax roll comparisons.
The 2022 tax roll, which includes all taxable property within the parish, increased by $4 million in Assessed Value. This increase was split between new properties and Public Service properties, such as utility companies, railroads, rolling stock, large intrastate pipelines and others.
The report states that there were a total of 26,444 taxpayers in 2022 with 12,295 parcels having Homestead Exemption. 7,168 of those parcels were 100 percent covered by the exemption.
With Homestead Exemption being a hot topic of discussion when it comes to taxpayers, the report includes a section specifically on Special Assessment Levels. It explains that eligible taxpayers may apply for various special assessment levels or what they call “freezes,” for their homestead. By “freezing” the taxpayer’s primary residence at its current assessed value, as long as the homeowner remains eligible. By doing this, it does not mean that this does not freeze millage rates. Your property’s assessed value will not increase, but taxing districts may still adjust tax rates on the properties.
There are three types of Homestead Exemption freezes – age freeze, disability freeze and veteran freeze. Currently, there are 990 age freeze parcels, 38 disability freeze parcels and 30 veteran freeze parcels.
They are currently working towards digitizing all old records for easy reference. These records include older deeds, homestead cards, LAT cards, etc. The office is also updating their Geographic Information System (GIS). This map can be used to locate, identify and inventory individual parcels of land in the parish.
Members of the assessor’s office encourage residents and taxpayers within the parish to reach out to the office, follow them on Facebook to keep up with current information or utilize their website, websterassessor.org. The website offers tools to locate property ownerships, assessed values and legal descriptions. Viewers can also file for homestead exemption online and check the status of tax payments.