The New Orleans City Council last week adopted a $496.7 million operating budget for 2012 that keeps the city’s property tax rate unchanged despite an increase in assessed valuations this year.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the council to keep the millage at the 2011 rate, which will increase city revenue by $3 million in 2012 due to higher assessments.

Without the move, Louisiana law would require that the millage rate be reduced to keep tax revenue collections at 2011 levels.

Taxes will go up on 60,000 properties with increased valuations in the latest assessment, but most property owners will not see a tax increase, officials said.

The budget-balancing act also included a refunding of $75 million of certificates of obligation from 1998 to push $15 million of debt service into 2013. The city used the refunding to avoid a $7.5 million payment due Dec. 1 and another $7.5 million payment in December 2012.

Landrieu proposed a $494.9 million general fund operating budget in October, but New Orleans’ official revenue-estimating panel in late November added another $1.8 million of state funds to the available revenues.

The state has agreed to pay the city $3.6 million a year for “support services” it provides to the Harrah’s New Orleans Casino.

The first $1.8 million of the payment is included in the state’s fiscal 2012 budget, but the second payment will be part of the fiscal 2013 budget.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed two bills putting the casino payment on an automatic basis.

Chief administrative officer Andy Kopplin asked the revenue-estimating panel to include the second $1.8 million in the forecast. He said the city would not spend the money until the Legislature appropriates it in the fiscal 2013 budget.

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