House bill could lead to increase in Orleans property taxes - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

House bill could lead to increase in Orleans property taxes

File image of Orleans Parish Prison File image of Orleans Parish Prison

New Orleans, La. - With the increasing need for police and two looming consent decrees involving the NOPD and the Orleans Parish Prison, the city could find itself in financial peril.  At the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a House bill that could give the city options to provide additional funding is now making its way through the Legislature.

"It's a constitutional amendment that would authorize the City Council and the City of New Orleans to raise up to 5 mills on property tax," says Representative Walt Leger (D-New Orleans).  Leger says the city asked him to file the bill just last week.

The approximately-1.5 mill increase would raise between $5 million and $6 million a year for fire and police protection.

"This authority granted to the city would give them more flexibility to generate some additional property taxes if necessary," says Rep. Leger.

If the bill passes through the Legislature, the amendment will go on the ballot for voters statewide to approve it.  "If approved, the City Council can take up whether or not they'd like to generate these additional taxes on property," says Rep. Leger.

Voters in Orleans would then have a chance to cast a ballot on the property tax increase.

The NOPD consent decree is expected to cost the city about $11 million a year.  While the prison consent decree hasn't been approved yet, it could come with a price tag twice that much.

Mayor Landrieu has said the combined costs of the two could force massive employee layoffs and furloughs.

"Furthermore, the firefighters' pension and retirement continues to be a large expense for the people of the City of New Orleans and there maybe the need to increase the number of police officers to provide the clear public safety needs of the city," says Rep. Leger.

Mayor Landrieu released a statement saying he's committed to reforming the Fire Fighters Pension Fund and the criminal justice system to rein in rising costs to the taxpayers.  He went on to say that the bill, HB 290, was filed as an emergency measure should the courts render judgments that would put the city in financial peril.

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