In The News › New Orleans voters reject Law Enforcement District tax

New Orleans voters reject Law Enforcement District tax

By Naomi Martin | The Times-Picayune

November 4, 2014

Voters rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have let Sheriff Marlin Gusman use tax revenue restricted to capital improvement projects on operations at the troubled Orleans Parish Prison.
That no vote came despite the measure being backed by both Gusman and Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The tax rate, set at 2.9 mills since 2008, finances capital projects in the criminal justice system through the sheriff’s Law Enforcement District. That rate had been declining as Gusman paid off his bond debt. The new measure would have frozen the rate and allowed the leftover balance to be spent on efforts to comply with a federally mandated overhaul of the jail.

Landrieu had estimated the tax would have raised $8 million that would not have to come from the city’s limited budget. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research put the potential revenues closer to $5 million.

In any case, that cash would have gone a long way toward paying for the consent decree, which a federal court-appointed monitor recently testified could cost as much as $22 million a year. The sheriff’s new medical and mental health contract, considered a major step toward improving conditions for inmates, alone will cost about $15 million next year.

Landrieu warned that without the tax rate’s extra revenue, the city’s financial future would be bleak.

“If this proposition does not pass, we would have to cut city services and cut the general fund to help pay for mental health and medical care at the jail,” Landrieu told reporters Oct 23. “This is not a good idea. The consequences are real.”

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