In The News › Property tax likely to rise in N.O.

Nov 29, 2010

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Government Finance, Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

Property tax likely to rise in N.O.

Monday, November 29, 2010
By Monica Hernandez

NEW ORLEANS – Although Mayor Mitch Landrieu presented his 2011 budget proposal two weeks earlier than past mayors, New Orleans city leaders say they’ve been working overtime the last week and a half to reach a final budget by the Wednesday deadline.

“This is the most amount of “budget” I’ve ever done in this job,” said New Orleans city council vice-president Jackie Clarkson. “I am proud to say so.”

Part of the debate has to do with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposal to roll millage rates forward to levels last seen in 2007.

“The struggle, or the push on the administration’s part is to get all 8.74 mills,” said Clancy DuBos, WWL political analyst. “And it’s not just for this year. Because whatever millage rate the council sets, that becomes the new base millage rate for the reappraisal, which begins in January.”

Council president Arnie Fielow said it appears there will be some millage increase, although it may not be as high as the mayor is proposing.

“We’re still discussing what degree we have to increase it to,” said Fielkow.

“I think it’s almost a dead-on certainty that the millage will go up,” said Fielkow. They’re tweaking it between 5 and 8.74 mills, and that’s where the debate is,” said DuBos.

While the non-profit, independent Bureau of Governmental Research doesn’t have an official stance on rolling millage forward, it did send an open letter to Landrieu suggesting ways the city can tighten its budget and bring in revenue instead of rolling forward millage rates.

Among the suggestions is tightening the million dollar budget for the city’s communications department. That department’s budget is $800,000 greater than that of the communications department in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

The BGR also suggests limiting economic development expenditures to the fund dedicated to economic development, rather than also dipping into the general fund, as the mayor proposes.
BGR also suggests asking for private sector matches for the city’s summer youth employment program.

“We’ve looked at things as kind of low-hanging fruit, but it is clear, the city of New Orleans spends a lot more money for government than a lot of its peer cities do, and I think we need to get to the bottom of that maybe over the course of the next year,” said Janet Howard, BGR president and CEO.

In a city where only about a third of properties are on the tax rolls, council members say they are looking into other revenue sources as well. Fielkow said there are some add-ons that weren’t in the original budget, but wouldn’t get into specifics.

“A lot of it is in the criminal justice system, things like the Tulane Towers GED program, the public defenders office, things of that nature,” said Fielkow.

Meanwhile, Fielkow is asking the public to hold tight while city leaders come to a consensus.

“This is like a big jigsaw puzzle. You’ve got to look at what cuts need to be made, what cuts need to be put on the table, then, how do you pay for it?” said Fielkow.

Fielkow said he hopes to finish budget discussions with the council, and the mayor, by Tuesday night at the latest.

Nov 29, 2010

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Government Finance, Orleans Parish, Taxation & Assessments

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