Amid heightened public concern about crime throughout the city of New Orleans, every positive step toward enforcement deserves the support of the public.
That is why we encourage voters in the French Quarter to back a city-proposed sales tax for increased police protection.
The 0.2495 percent sales tax would raise about $2 million a year for public safety in the targeted district, which includes not only the Quarter proper but all businesses bounded by the river, the center line of Canal Street, North Rampart Street (both sides) and Esplanade Avenue (both sides).
This new tax would be part of a package of funding measures intended to suppress a crime problem that has not only gotten out of hand for residents of the area but is a real worry for the city’s vital tourism industry.
Early voting begins Saturday and continues to Oct. 17. Election Day is Oct. 24.
As the epicenter of tourism in Louisiana, the downtown area needs to be safe — and that means safer than it is now.
Beyond a “citizen squad” of yellow-shirted monitors of street activity — considered a waste by some in the Quarter, because of their limited powers — the reality is that strong police presence is needed.
A State Police contingent — now boarded and paid for by the hotel industry — has remained in the Quarter since a shootout on Bourbon Street in late June 2014 injured nine and killed a Hammond woman.
Should the new Quarter security tax pass, the proceeds would be combined with other revenue sources to develop long-term commitments of police presence to keep the area safer.
This is not, obviously, the solution to crime — perhaps not even in the Quarter itself but certainly not beyond it. The mayor and his administration have focused intensively on the murder rate, a commendable obsession, but day-to-day, the impact of high-profile robberies in several bars and restaurants causes much anxiety for residents throughout the city.
Pay raises for officers of the New Orleans Police Department and a new effort by Superintendent Michael Harrison to get more officers on the street are helpful steps, but clearly a lot more needs to be done.
The Quarter tax is an element of the solution, however.
Because of the economic impact of tourism, the Quarter tax is vital to protecting the entire city, even if only Quarter residents vote on it.
We urge them to do so.