On the Ballot

Mayor Cantrell Urges “No” Vote on Saturday; Councilmember Williams Disagrees

By Jenn Bentley

Source: Big Easy Magazine

March 27, 2019

In a video posted to Facebook earlier this week, Mayor LaToya Cantrell continued to urge New Orleans residents to vote “NO” on a new property tax.

The proposed tax increase would be sent to the Council on Aging, a private, non-profit corporation. On their website, they state that they are “responsible for insuring (sic) that a comprehensive and coordinated assortment of social, recreational, educational, and nutrition services are provided to persons aged 60 and over in the City of New Orleans.”

In the video, Cantrell states that as an independent organization, the Council on Aging is not accountable to the city. “I unconditionally support providing more funding for our seniors,” Cantrell said. “But as a city, we cannot keep sending our tax dollars to agencies that are unaccountable to the public and are not set up to provide the full range of services that our seniors need.

Mayor Cantrell has made it a priority to begin getting New Orleans more control over its own tax dollars under the #FairShare initiative. While these efforts have mostly revolved around tourism tax dollars, it’s easy to understand why the mayor would unequivocally oppose any measure that increases taxes but does not place that money under city control.

“I’m fighting for our fair share of tourism revenue for infrastructure. We need to take care of that before we ask people to pay more taxes,” Cantrell stated.

In contrast, City Councilmember Jason Williams posted in support of the measure, saying, “We desperately need these funds to provide for the elders who have given us so much and who continue to pave the way forward for our city. Vote Yes on the Senior Services millages this Saturday, March 30th!”

Mayor Cantrell had previously asked the City Council to withhold putting the measure on the ballot, stating that she wanted to take a more holistic approach to city services, including those helping the elderly.

According to the Bureau of Governmental Research, New Orleans residents age 60 and older “have greater income instability, are more likely to be disabled, and are more likely to live alone” than in other cities. The city needs to provide services to senior citizens to help them feel secure.

However, the proposition up for a vote on Saturday does not designate where the money raised by the tax increase is to go. The City Council has said that it will define those terms later.

Shouldn’t residents know where their tax money is going before they vote on the issue?

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