Ascension Parish Assessor’s Office first-ever to win Distinguished award

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

     The Ascension Parish Assessor’s Office and Assessor Mert Smiley have been awarded the prestigious Distinguished Assessment Jurisdiction Award from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), which is the highest agency-level recognition given by IAAO. Ascension Parish is the first and only assessor’s office in Louisiana to ever win this award and one of 54 agencies in the United States and around the world to have won the award since 1983.  

     Assessor Smiley and Chief Deputy Justin Champlin accepted the international award on Sept. 14 at the 81st IAAO Annual Conference held in Indianapolis, Ind. 

     “By receiving the Distinguished Assessment Jurisdiction Award, it reinforces our commitment to fair and equitable assessments for all,” Smiley said. “Most importantly, it recognizes the modern appraisal processes, technology endeavors, hard work, commitment and dedication to excellence your Assessor’s Office staff provides the citizens of Ascension Parish. In less than three years, we have transformed your Assessor’s Office to one that is now highly regarded throughout the United States and the world because you deserve the best.” 

     The award is conferred on an assessment agency that has instituted a technical, procedural or administrative program that is, for the affected jurisdiction, an improvement over prior programs, and is generally recognized as a component of a model assessment system and a contributing factor to equity in property taxation. It is given only to government assessment or revenue agencies that have instituted a program as described above, the results of which have been proven successful.  A program such as the Assessor’s Office Aerial Imagery and Technology Project instituted in 2014 led to the award. 

     Following the award, Pictometry, a contributor to the project offered a statement. 

     “Pictometry worked with the Ascension Parish Assessor's Office to provide them with the customized, high resolution ortho and oblique imagery they required in order to maximize the value of the technology for tax payers in Ascension Parish,” said District Manager Jason Blalock. “We are proud of our partnership with Assessor Mert Smiley, Chief Deputy Justin Champlin and all of the departments and personnel in Ascension Parish that utilize our technology every day to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their offices."

     Another project contributor, Apex Software, offered the following statement: 

     “Apex Software was excited to support the project vision of the Ascension Parish Assessor’s Office.  Apex created individual digital building sketch files using their imagery, which allowed them to locate missing improvements from the roll and integrate this data into their customized CAMA system. Their accomplishment is an example of ingenuity and innovation, Apex was proud to play a part in the process,” said Services Project Manager Nancy Johnston. 

     IAAO is the leading nonprofit, educational and research association for individuals in the assessment profession and others with an interest in property valuation and taxation. The association’s mission is to promote innovation and excellence in property appraisal, assessment administration and property tax policy through professional development, education, research and technical assistance. IAAO was founded in 1934 and currently serves more than 7,000 members worldwide.