Huge challenges loom
in assessor’s next term
LIVINGSTON – The Livingston Parish Assessor begins his fifth term Friday in what may bring him the biggest challenges he has faced yet.
Jeff Taylor, who will take the Oath of Office at 1 p.m. at Livingston Parish Courthouse, feels almost like he is starting from scratch on accuracy of assessments on the wake of the Great Flood of 2016. Damage to approximately 80 percent of the residential and commercial structures in Livingston Parish washed away certainty on accurate assessments.
“The next four years will definitely be a matter of overcoming the challenges of the flood,” said Taylor, who first took office in 2000. “We had everything moving in the right direction with mapping and working straight from computers – and then came the flood, which took all the work we did over the years and turned it upside down.”
It will take at least two or three years for his office to determine true values on property across the parish, Taylor said.
The recovery stage remains in the starting phase for the parish, which means Taylor’s office must take the “wait and see” approach on assessments.”
“Realtors are saying values aren’t going down much, but I can’t be assured of that until work is finished and sales start happening again,” he said.
Taylor’s office will spend the next four years working to find the accurate assessments on the homes.
The newer homes will pose a greater challenge, he said.
“You have some older homes that have flooded multiple times, and they are where they are on assessments because we had those factors built in,” Taylor said. “But for the newer homes, this flood was so enormous that we may not factor it again because we’re not sure.”
The rarity of a flood the magnitude of the August event fuels the uncertainty.
Taylor has gotten into the habit of studying weather patterns that determine the possibility of another record rainfall.
Many people misunderstand the meaning of a term such as “500-year-flood,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean it only comes every 500 years,” Taylor said. “What they’re telling you is that there is a one-in-500 chance it will happen – and by that logic, it could happen every year.
“In my life, I’ve lived through two 100-year floods (1977 and 1983), one 500-year flood (1983) and possibly a 1,000-year flood last year – and I’m only 52. What luck is that?” he said. “I think there’s a lot lacking in the factual manner there. But that being said, it says you have that much more of a chance of a one-in-1,000.
“The weather patterns have gotten much more interesting since the flood came through,” Taylor said.
Taylor will take part in a prayer service at Unity Prayer Center on Frost Road – the church his late father Rev. Delmas Taylor pastored for 45 years – before he heads to the courthouse for inauguration.
The service will begin at 10:30 a.m. It will be a reverent affair with aspects of his late father in the service.
“My dad wouldn’t have wanted or ever expect that this would turn into an event for him,” Taylor said, “We’ll honor him in a way that you’ll know it, but it will be subtle and will still be a celebration.”
The Rev. Delmas Taylor died in August, four months after he retired from his post as Livingston Parish Registrar of Voters.