Consider this a public service announcement for New Orleans voters.
That millage vote that you’ve probably been hearing about — the one that would keep the same tax rate but shift property tax dollars to give less to the Audubon Commission, more to the city’s recreation and parks and parkways operations and, for the first time, some to City Park — is not this Saturday. It’s May 4.
The vote that you might have heard much less about, the one that increases taxes by two mills and put the revenue toward services for the elderly administered through the Council on Aging? That’s the one on this week’s ballot.
If you’re confused, well, blame it on a disconnect between the mayor’s office and the City Council that both sides really should have been able to work out.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been mostly focused on the recreation vote, a breakthrough compromise that would not raise homeowners’ overall tax bill. Meanwhile, the council put the tax for the elderly on the ballot, which would go toward expanding Meals on Wheels and increase access to programs at senior centers, despite Cantrell’s opposition. The mayor says she supports increasing services, but wants to approach it as part of a package addressing other needs and make sure there’s enough public accountability.
The result is two standalone votes in the space of just over a month.
No matter the merits of either proposal, that’s a terrible idea. Having two separate elections doubles the cost, creates confusion and possibly fatigue among voters, and very likely pushes turnout for each one lower than it might otherwise be.
Louisiana, simply put, allows for too many elections. Consider this silly scenario just one more example of why.