Watchdog group takes stand against property tax proposition - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Watchdog group takes stand against property tax proposition

Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans

New Orleans, La. -- On November 6, voters in New Orleans will decide whether to extend a property tax for flood protection and some non-flood protection items for 30 years.  A government watchdog group is urging taxpayers to vote the proposal down.

The New Orleans lakefront in its splendor includes levees and other elements of flood protection.  Given that, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East wants voters to approve a 30-year extension of a property tax of 6.07 mills.

Under the proposition, 5.46 mills would generate about $14 million a year and would be dedicated to maintaining and constructing levees, drainage and other flood protection efforts. The remaining 0.61 mills, amounting to about $1.5 million in annual tax revenue, would go to the Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority, which oversees maintenance of Lakeshore Drive, Lakefront Airport and a marina, among other properties.

"We have no problem at all with renewing 5.46 mills for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority," said Janet Howard, president and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research.

However, BGR does have a problem with the mills carved out for the Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority.  "We're afraid if you give them millage for 30 years, it cements the current management structure and there are a lot of things that need to be examined before that happens," Howard continued.

Some residents FOX 8 News spoke to support the proposition in its current form.  However, Howard said asking voters for approval at this time is unnecessary, given some of the questions her organization and others have raised.

The current millage does not expire until 2015.

"There is time to come back to voters again requesting a renewal after the non-flood asset portion has been reviewed and [an] optimal position for developing those properties is developed," said Howard.

Some supporters of the proposition say they want it voted on next month, when voters are expected to show up at the polls in large numbers to elect a president.

No one from SELFPA or the Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority returned our calls or emails in response to the BGR's position.

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