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Our Views: Support Orleans, Jeff taxes

Advocate editorial

December 10, 2017

Voters in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish face several tax proposals on today’s ballot. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that studies public policy issues in the New Orleans area, has endorsed all of the taxes. Here is a recap of The Advocate’s positions on the ballot items.

NEW ORLEANS

Tax increase for fire protection: Yes.

After a long legal battle, the courts concluded that the City of New Orleans owes millions of dollars to firefighters and their pension fund. A proposed 2.5-mill property tax would, if approved, be levied for 12 years to pay the court settlement, generating an estimated $8.9 million a year. The homestead exemption wouldn’t apply to the tax. If the tax is not approved, the city would still have to pay the settlement with other tax revenue, which could pose a challenge to vital services.

It’s important for any community to keep its promises to first-responders, and this tax seems the best way to advance that goal. We urge voters to support it.

Sewerage and Water Board Drainage Tax Renewal: Yes.

This property tax, currently levied at 4.66 mills, would be renewed at 4.46 mills for 30 years if approved by voters. The tax helps fund drainage programs at their current levels. Anyone who lives in New Orleans should know that drainage operations are vital to the city’s existence. Put simply, this isn’t an optional service. We recommend a “yes” vote.

JEFFERSON PARISH

Sales tax renewal: Yes.

A one-percent sales tax in the parish helps pay for sewerage, road and drainage projects performed by the parish in unincorporated areas and the town of Jean Lafitte. The tax also helps to fund law enforcement in unincorporated areas and is used for general purposes in the other five municipalities of the parish. Renewal of the tax would help fund road and sewerage projects in the parish and maintain basic services. We urge voters to approve it.

Drainage tax renewal: Yes.

Voters across the parish, except in Grand Isle, will decide whether to renew a 4.64-mill property tax for drainage for 10 years. Drainage is a basic necessity in Jefferson Parish and across south Louisiana, and taxes like this are the price we way for living here. We support the renewal.

Recreation tax renewal: Yes.

A 7.8-mill property tax that funds recreation programs in unincorporated areas and the town of Jean Lafitte is up for renewal for another 10 years. These programs help residents stay healthy and active and promote the parish’s overall quality of life. We recommend that voters approve the tax.

School tax renewal: Yes.

A 4-mill property tax up for renewal for another 10 years will, if approved, continue to help pay for technology, capital projects, maintenance and improvements. Today’s students are competing in a global marketplace, and continued investment public education is essential to advance their future. We support this renewal.

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