New Orleans firefighters deal: City to pay full $75M in back pay; union agrees to pension concessions; new tax in the works (copy) _lowres

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Nick Felton, president of the firefighters union, listens as Mayor Mitch Landrieu, announces a settlement in the decades long dispute between the city and firefighters union over pension and back pay last October. In April, voters rejected a tax that would help pay for the $75 million settlement, and Landrieu moved Thursday to launch the process to place the issue on another ballot.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration is proposing to make a second attempt at convincing voters to approve a new tax to pay a $75 million settlement with firefighters.

The tax was shot down by voters in April, when it and a tax aimed at funding the New Orleans Police Department appeared as a single item on the ballot. This time, the tax for the fire department would be on its own, a move that officials hope will make it more palatable to the voters.

The 2.5 mill tax was estimated to bring in about $8.9 million a year, money that would go toward a settlement firefighters and the city reached last year to end a decades-long lawsuit over back pay. The money would also be used to help shore up the firefighters' pension system.

The tax would be levied on the full assessed value of the property, without taking into account the homestead exemption. That amounts to an extra $25 in taxes per year for every $100,000 of a property's assessed value.

About 53.5 percent of New Orleans voters rejected the tax this spring.

On Thursday, the City Council is expected to pass a motion notifying the public that the tax proposal will be discussed at a future meeting. It will be up to the council to decide whether to move forward later this year.

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.​