The New Orleans City Council has approved plans to put two property taxes, one new and one old, on the December ballot.
The council's action means voters likely will be asked to decide whether to extend an existing 4.46-mill drainage tax and to establish a new 2.5-mill tax for the Fire Department that would cover the costs of a settlement with firefighters over back pay owed to them.
The council on Thursday voted 6-0 to put the two measures on the Dec. 10 ballot; Councilman James Gray was absent.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration is taking a second crack at passing a new tax to fund …
The proposed fire tax is the city's second attempt to win voter support for a tax to pay off a $75 million settlement with firefighters over the next dozen years. About 54 percent of city voters rejected the millage in April, when it was packaged together with a 5-mill property tax increase for the New Orleans Police Department.
City officials hope that making the fire tax a stand-alone measure will increase its chances of success.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has estimated the fire millage would bring in about $8.9 million a year. That money would be plugged into the firefighters' ailing retirement system to meet the city's pension obligations, and the city then would dedicate about $5 million a year to paying off the balance of the back pay settlement under the terms of a deal struck last year after decades of legal battles.
A proposal to hike property taxes by $26.6 million a year in New Orleans to help finance an …
The tax would be in place until 2028.
The tax for the firefighters would cover the full assessed value of a property, not just the portion above the $75,000 homestead exemption. It would increase taxes by $25 for every $100,000 of a property's value.
The other tax vote will decide whether the Sewerage & Water Board can continue collecting one of three millages that pay for its drainage department. The drainage system is funded entirely through taxes, unlike the sewer and water systems, which are paid for through monthly usage bills.
The drainage tax brings in about $15 million a year, about 28 percent of the agency's total drainage budget. If approved, the tax would be extended for another 30 years.
For the owner of a $150,000 property with a homestead exemption, the tax costs about $33.45 each year.
The taxes still have to be approved by the State Bond Commission before they can appear on the ballot, though that's largely a procedural step in the process.