In The News › New Orleans voters approve library tax

New Orleans voters approve library tax

By Richard Rainey | The Times-Picayune

May 2, 2015

New Orleans’ libraries can look forward to a cash infusion after voters agreed Saturday (May 2) to raise property taxes to support the ailing public system.

Voters were asked to consider providing the library system with as much as $8.2 million a year starting in January, in addition to the current 3.14-mill, $8.7 million annual property tax. The new money was being sought to help the library close a $3 million budget gap. Library leaders have said the shortfall would cause severe cutbacks in hours of operation or even the closing of up to half the city’s 14 branches.

The proposed uses for the extra cash included expanding operating hours to seven days a week at some branches and rebuilding the damaged Nora Navra Library in the 7th Ward.

The tax had broad support from New Orleans elected officials, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The government watchdog group, the Bureau of Governmental Research, was skeptical of the request. Its criticisms involved the lack of a detailed, strategic plan for spending the money, no precise, long-term vision for the system from Library Director Charles Brown, and the lack of contingency plans if the millage failed at the ballot box.

BGR had advised against voting for the proposal, requesting that city leaders come up with those detailed plans and wait until a November election to come back to voters.

With the additional millage, the tax burden for the owner of a $300,000 house claiming a homestead exemption would increase from $71.94 a year to $126.75 a year.

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