On Nov. 16, New Orleans residents will have a chance to vote on three ballot questions affecting the city’s bottom line. Here are The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate’s recommendations:
$500 Million Bond Proposition— For
This measure would allow the city to issue up to $500 million in new capital improvement bonds to be supported by existing taxes. The bonds would provide $250 million for street and drainage improvements, $225 for public facilities and public safety equipment and $25 million for affordable housing, according to a non-binding spending plan. They would also allow the city to draw down federal resources such as FEMA funding for post-Katrina repairs. We would prefer more specificity, but also recognize that the measure’s flexibility offers some advantages to the taxpayers’ bottom line. We recommend that voters support this proposition and urge the city to stick to its promised priorities.
3-Mill Property Tax Proposition — For
This is the only question of the three that would increase property taxes on residents, although it would effectively replace a different millage that dropped off the books last year. The proceeds would provide an estimated $12 million annually. As with the bond issue, the city has put forth a nonbinding plan, with 50% going toward streets and drainage, 35% toward facilities and 15% to maintain, repair and replace vehicles. We recognize that many residents are facing a higher tax burden due to new property assessments, but think the administration is justified in seeking money to invest in these well-chronicled needs. We also agree that better maintenance can be a money-saver in the long run. We recommend a “yes” vote, and here too encourage the city to follow its plan.
Short-Term Rental Tax Proposition — For
When Mayor LaToya Cantrell set out to secure what she calls a “Fair Share” of tourism revenue for city infrastructure, an increase in the tax on short-term rentals through companies such as Airbnb was high on her list. This measure would authorize the city to collect an additional tax of up to 6.75% on STR stays, with 75% of the revenue dedicated to a special infrastructure fund for the city and Sewerage & Water Board and 25% to New Orleans & Company, which promotes tourism. The measure also brings taxes on short-term rentals in line with those on hotel stays, which would create a level playing field for operators of different lodging options. We would have liked to see some of this money put toward affordable housing, which has been impacted by the growth of STRs, but overall we believe visitors should contribute to the high cost of the infrastructure they use while here.