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BGR Reports

Public Contributions to Convention Center Hotel Demand Scrutiny

Jul 19, 2018

Convention Hotel cover

In this report, BGR provides an analytical framework for evaluating the necessity and size of a private development team’s requested public contributions to design, build and operate a 1,200-room hotel attached to the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. BGR estimates that the proposed contributions – some of which would remain in place for 40 years – would be worth $329.5 million in today’s dollars.

The report outlines five criteria for analyzing the developers’ proposal based on BGR’s research of best practices for public participation in economic development projects. The reports calls on the Convention Center to (1) clearly justify any public contributions to the hotel project and (2) provide ample time for citizens and public officials to review any tentative deal before final approval.

From Answers to Action: Post-Election Policy Making

Jun 21, 2018

From Answers to Action

From Answers to Action: Post-Election Policy Making is the latest installment in BGR’s Candidate Q&A Election Series, which surveyed the mayoral and City Council candidates last fall about their positions on important issues facing City government. The new report consolidates and reissues the responses of the newly elected officials who responded to the surveys, which covered topics that persist as critically important. Examples include NOPD funding, street maintenance and land use planning.

We encourage citizens to revisit the issues by reviewing the BGR research and the elected officials’ responses presented in this report. Where the officials express positions that clearly affirm or align with BGR’s recommendations, we strongly urge them to identify – and take action on – the steps necessary to achieve those goals.

Read the full report.

Read report excerpts on these issues:

Public Safety

Effective Government

Employee Compensation and Pensions

Civil Service

Professional Services Contracting

Street Maintenance

Drainage System

Local Tax Dedications

Tax Exemptions and the Tax Base

Economic Development Tax Subsidies

Land Use Planning

On the Ballot: West Jefferson Levee District Millage

Apr 10, 2018

Ballot Issues

On April 28, voters on the west bank of Jefferson Parish will decide whether to approve a new property tax for the West Jefferson Levee District. This will be the Levee District’s second attempt at a new tax to cover the increased costs of raising and armoring levees and maintaining pump stations.

City Council Members Should Regulate, Not Govern, the S&WB

Mar 29, 2018

BGR NOW billboard

Today the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) releases City Council Members Should Regulate, Not Govern, S&WB. The release addresses a bill that would, among other things, allow a member of the New Orleans City Council to sit on the Sewerage & Water Board. BGR opposes the change in board composition for the S&WB and urges instead that policymakers immediately focus on improving City Council oversight and regulation of the S&WB within the existing structure. In the longer term, stronger council oversight and regulation may not be sufficient to address the multitude of organizational and technical problems plaguing the S&WB. However, it is a better interim approach than changing the board’s composition until policymakers can determine the best long-term solutions to the S&WB’s problems.

2017 Candidate Q&A Election Series

Sep 14, 2017

2017 Candidate Q&A

BGR provides New Orleans voters with its 2017 Candidate Q&A Election Series. For the October 14th primary elections, BGR submitted questions to all mayoral and City Council candidates on public safety, infrastructure and other important public policy issues facing the City of New Orleans government. BGR compiled the answers of the candidates who responded and released them in installments for each race. In addition, BGR conducted podcast interviews with LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet, the two mayoral candidates in the November 18th runoff election. Click on the links below to access the videos and the Q&A reports.*

Read the media release.
City Council At Large Division 1
City Council At Large Division 2
City Council District A
City Council District B
City Council District C
City Council District E

*No candidate from District D responded.
Video and production by Dennis Woltering PhotoVideo.

Aligning Louisiana’s Nonprofit Property Tax Exemption with National Norms

Mar 7, 2017

March 2017 nonprofit letter

In an open letter to the Louisiana Legislature, BGR reiterates the problems with the state’s unusual nonprofit property tax exemptions. The letter explains the deficiencies in the current provisions, demonstrates their unusual status in the context of other states’ requirements and presents a template for a constitutional amendment.

Do Stormwater Fees Make Sense for New Orleans?

Feb 13, 2017

A Primer on Stormwater Fees

In Beneath the Surface: A Primer on Stormwater Fees in New Orleans, BGR explores a funding mechanism that is expanding in usage nationwide as an alternative to ad valorem property taxes.

On the Ballot: Jefferson Parish Taxes

Nov 17, 2016

Ballot Issues

In On the Ballot: Jefferson Parish Taxes, December 10, 2016, BGR examines and takes positions on four dedicated taxes up for renewal: a sales tax for parish sewerage, road and drainage projects, law enforcement and municipal governments in Jefferson; and three property taxes for parish drainage, recreation and public schools.

On the Ballot: New Orleans Fire and Drainage Taxes

Nov 15, 2016

Ballot Issues

In On the Ballot: New Orleans Fire and Drainage Taxes, December 10, 2016, BGR examines and takes positions on two property tax propositions: a tax increase for fire protection services and a tax renewal for the Sewerage & Water Board’s drainage system.

Convention Center Bill Highlights Need to Rethink Local Taxation

May 11, 2016

BGR Now Logo

In Convention Center Bill Highlights Need to Rethink Local Taxation, BGR addresses a bill that would grant taxing authority to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s economic development district. The release calls for a comprehensive re-evaluation of Orleans Parish taxes, with an eye toward aligning tax revenues with the city’s most pressing needs.

BGR Reviews Tax Propositions for Streets, Public Safety

Mar 16, 2016

Ballot Issues

In On the Ballot: New Orleans, April 9, 2016, BGR explains and analyzes two tax propositions in New Orleans: one for street work and other improvements, and a second for the police and fire departments.

Fixing Louisiana’s Costly and Unusual Nonprofit Exemptions

Mar 2, 2016

BGR Now Logo

In It’s Time for Common Sense on Nonprofit Exemptions, BGR calls on the Louisiana Legislature to address overly broad language in the state constitution that is costly to both local governments and taxpayers.

Rethinking Tax Dedications in New Orleans

Nov 10, 2015

The $1 Billion Question

In The $1 Billion Question: Do the Tax Dedications in New Orleans Make Sense? BGR presents a comprehensive picture of where local tax dollars are going in Orleans Parish. The report provides breakdowns of tax dedications by entity and by purpose, and gives examples of problems that can arise when tax dedications are established with little planning and accountability. It also makes recommendations to help ensure existing tax revenues are deployed optimally.

On the October Ballot: French Quarter Tax Proposition, State Infrastructure Bank

Oct 6, 2015

On the Ballot: November 4, 2014

In On the Ballot: October 24, 2015, BGR explains, analyzes and takes positions on a proposed quarter-cent sales tax for public safety in New Orleans’ French Quarter and a constitutional amendment allowing the state to invest in an infrastructure bank.

BGR Reviews Tax Propositions in Orleans, St. Bernard Parishes

Apr 8, 2015

On the Ballot: November 4, 2014

In On the Ballot: Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes, May 2, 2015, BGR explains, analyzes and takes positions on proposed taxes for the Orleans Parish Law Enforcement District, the New Orleans Public Library system and the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District in St. Bernard Parish.

BGR Reviews Contracting Reform, Sheriff’s Tax, Other Propositions

Sep 25, 2014

On the Ballot: November 4, 2014

In On the Ballot: November 4, 2014, BGR explains, analyzes and takes positions on two proposed amendments to the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans, one Orleans Parish tax proposition and two constitutional amendments.

The Hotel Assessment: A Question of Priorities, a Question of Propriety

May 14, 2013

BGR Now Logo

In this release, BGR examines a proposal to impose what amounts to a new hotel tax.

The Nonprofit Exemption: Bad News for Taxpayers

Jan 31, 2012

BGR Now Logo

This edition of Now addresses problems associated with the nonprofit exemption, and what can be done to solve them.

BGR Examines Local, State Items on Fall Ballots

Oct 6, 2011

Ballot Issues

In On the Ballot: Local and State Propositions, October and November 2011, BGR examines charter amendments in Jefferson and Orleans parishes, tax propositions in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes, and six amendments to the state constitution.

BGR Examines Four Jefferson Parish Ballot Propositions

Apr 12, 2011

Ballot Issues

On the Ballot: Jefferson Parish, April 30, 2011 examines one sales tax proposition and three property tax propositions. The propositions include taxes for schools and drainage.

Addressing the High Cost of Nonprofit Exemptions

Mar 15, 2011

Nonprofit Exemption

In The Nonprofit Margin: Addressing the Costs of the Nonprofit Exemption in New Orleans (March 2011), BGR examines the impact of the nonprofit exemption on government finances and tax rates and various approaches for mitigating that impact.

BGR Presentations to the Tax Fairness Commission

Feb 10, 2011

Tax Fairness Commission - General

The Bureau of Governmental Research made presentations before the New Orleans Tax Fairness Commission on February 3, 2011 and February 23, 2011.

The first presentation, Taxation in New Orleans, examines the City’s tax picture, with particular emphasis on property taxes. Read it here.

The second presentation, The Industrial Development Board and PILOT Subsidies, provides information on the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans and the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) subsidies that it awards to developments. Read it here.

What ‘Rolling Forward’ Means for Tax Rates

Nov 4, 2010

Roll Forwards

In Rolling Forward: The Complete Picture, BGR provides a composite picture of citywide property tax rates in Orleans Parish, the capacity of various taxing entities to increase those rates, and the potential cost to property owners.

Shifting the Costs of the Homestead Exemption

Jun 8, 2010

Forgotten Promises

In Forgotten Promises: The Lost Connection Between the Homestead Exemption and the Revenue Sharing Fund (June 2010), BGR examines the decline of a state mechanism to cover the costs of the exemption.

Building a Model Assessment System in New Orleans

Dec 14, 2009

In All Fairness

As the campaign for the city’s soon-to-be consolidated assessor’s office begins, BGR releases In All Fairness: Building a Model Assessment System in New Orleans. The report explains what the new citywide assessor must do to create a fair, efficient and transparent assessment system in Orleans Parish.

In the Private Interest: A Review of the Lake Forest Plaza TIF Proposal

Sep 16, 2009

In the Private Interest: A Review of the Lake Forest Plaza TIF Proposal

In this report entitled In the Private Interest: A Review of the Lake Forest Plaza TIF Proposal, BGR analyzes a tax increment financing (TIF) proposal by the owners of the former mall site to use public funds to clear up debts on the site and redevelop it.

Who’s Behind the Tree?  The Homestead Exemption and Taxpayers in the New Orleans Area

Mar 23, 2009

Who's Behind the Tree? The Homestead Exemption and Taxpayers in the New Orleans Area

In Who’s Behind the Tree? The Homestead Exemption and Taxpayers in the New Orleans Area, BGR examines the impacts of a proposed increase in Louisiana’s homestead exemption on taxpayers in Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes.

Look Before You Leap: Tax Increment Financing in Jefferson Parish

Jul 22, 2008

Look Before You Leap - Jefferson Parish TIF

Look Before You Leap: Tax Increment Financing in Jefferson Parish provides an overview of tax increment financing (TIF) and describes four TIF districts proposed in Jefferson Parish. It also reviews the perceived benefits of TIF, as well as the pitfalls and potential abuses of the mechanism. It concludes with recommendations concerning the future use of TIF in Jefferson Parish.

Drafting a TIF Policy for New Orleans

Mar 12, 2008

The City of New Orleans is working on a draft policy governing tax increment financing. BGR submitted comments on the February 2008 draft at the request of the City Council’s Special Development Projects and Economic Development Committee. The letter recommends that the City look to San Antonio’s TIF policy for guidance. In November, BGR submitted a letter commenting on a City TIF policy report.

Stop the Insanity on Subsidies

Sep 17, 2007

In the face of mounting developer requests for subsidies, this release calls for the City of New Orleans and the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans to stop approving subsidies until they have implemented promised policies and procedures.

Of Equitable Assessments and Lower Tax Rates

Aug 14, 2007

BGR provided this piece for publication in Gambit Weekly, explaining the ways in which significantly increased assessments can be about fairness and the common good.

Seeking Subsidies on Top of Subsidies

May 3, 2007

In a follow-up to Protecting New Orleans’ Tax Base: Which PILOTs Should Fly? BGR raises concerns about requests for local property tax subsidies to housing developments that have already received subsidies through state and federal programs.

Protecting New Orleans’ Tax Base: Which PILOTs Should Fly?

Mar 12, 2007

In Protecting New Orleans’ Tax Base: Which PILOTs Should Fly? BGR addresses New Orleans’ system for handling property tax subsidies through the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) mechanism. This report comes at a time when requests for such subsidies are increasing.

Why Consolidate Assessors?

Mar 22, 2006

Part of a series of web-based reports BGR began publishing following the 2005 disaster.

Unfair Assessments Become More Unfair and Arbitrary

Jan 26, 2006

Part of a web-based series of reports on the rebuilding of New Orleans following the 2005 disaster.

BGR Comments on Condominium Subsidies

Aug 24, 2005

The Times-Picayune carried an Op-Ed piece by BGR’s President Janet Howard on the issue of public subsidies for high-end condominiums

Unfair Assessments, Excessive Exemptions

May 11, 2005

In New Orleans, too many property owners pay little or no taxes on their properties; exemptions are granted regardless of need; and, as a result of inconsistent assessments, properties of similar value bear widely different tax burdens. In this report, BGR illustrates the impact of under-assessments and excessive exemptions on local governments and taxpayers in Orleans Parish. It also briefly reviews pending legislation that would exacerbate inequities and further limit the revenue base of local governments.

Uneconomic Development: An Analysis of the World Trade Center Lease

Mar 25, 2004

In a ground-breaking report, BGR tests the City’s claims of economic benefits in the World Trade Center hotel conversion. The report digs deep beneath the surface to unearth the fiscal imprudence of the lease deal for the City.

Tax Increment Financing in New Orleans

Apr 14, 2003

BGR issued a study on the use of tax increment financing (TIF) in New Orleans. The study reviews the use of TIF in general and in New Orleans in particular.

New Orleans District and Industrial Millage Proposition

Jan 18, 2002

On February 2, 2002, the voters of New Orleans will consider a proposition to authorize the extension of the property tax millage for the New Orleans Business and Industrial District (“NOB&ID” or the “District”).

Property Tax Exemption and Assessment Administration in Orleans Parish

Dec 28, 1999

This report examines property tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations, and analyzes assessment administration in Orleans Parish.

BGR Outlook on Jefferson: Tax Renewal on March 27 Election Ballot

Mar 19, 1999

An analysis of four dedicated property tax millages on the ballot for renewal in Jefferson Parish. All millages were renewed.

BGR Report on the November 3, 1998 General Election

Oct 23, 1998

This report provides a short analysis of the potential creation of three separate neighborhood-based special tax districts and a recommendation on two proposed amendments to the State Constitution.

BGR Report on the Orleans Assessors Tax Proposal

Sep 18, 1998

This report provides a short analysis of the proposal to levy a one-mill ad valorem tax to fund the offices of the Orleans Parish Assessors.

Property Taxes in New Orleans: Who Pays? Who Doesn’t? And Why?

Oct 21, 1996

A report with recommendations on the value and assessment of real estate exempt from property taxation in New Orleans.

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