Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region on Tuesday jointly endorsed a plan to raise property taxes in the city for police and fire protection.
The 7.5-mill increase will raise $26.6 million annually if approved by voters April 9.
Officials with the two business groups said in a news release that the proposed hike, which would last for 12 years, is important to ensure the safety of the city and its economy.
The 5 mills of the tax increase dedicated to the Police Department will go toward paying for new recruits as the agency seeks to bolster its ranks from 1,163 officers to 1,600 officers by 2020.
The 2.5 mills that would go to the Fire Department will help pay for the firefighters’ pension system, freeing up other money to pay a $75 million legal judgment that the city owes to firefighters.
The Business Council was actively involved in negotiations between the city and the firefighters that resulted last year in a deal over that judgment that included changes aimed at shoring up the pension system.
“A yes vote for this millage is critical to improving public safety in our city,” Business Council Chairman David Kerstein said. “Public safety is critical to the economic vitality and quality of life of our city. The unprecedented level of business activity experienced by the city over the past decade is at risk without strong and effective public safety services.”
The Bureau of Governmental Research and the New Orleans chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police also have endorsed the millage hike. So far, no organized opposition to the measure has emerged.