Gov. Edwards signs bills to help New Orleans tackle serious drainage problems

Gov. Edwards signs bill to fund repairs to New Orleans infrastructure

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards signed three bills into law Friday (June 7) that will help provide millions to the city of New Orleans for drainage and other infrastructure improvements.

With Mayor Latoya Cantrell at his side, and several state lawmakers and members of the Sewerage and Water Board at his back, Edwards signed the legislation into law which grew out of weeks of negotiations between the mayor, and local tourism leaders.

The governor said the new laws designed to help New Orleans show there is a strong state-city partnership.

He said it is in the interest of more than just the city’s residents to have the aged-drainage system addressed.

"Whether you live here, you work here or just visiting New Orleans, it's critically important that the infrastructure work for everyone,” said Edwards. “The streets have to drain; the toilets have to flush, and the taps need to run water that is clean and that's true for everywhere."

The bills were approved during the just ended legislative session at the state Capitol.

One of the measures implements a one-percent tax on the city’s hotels, another levies a 6.75 percent tax on short-term rentals in the city, and the third authorizes construction of a convention center hotel which would also generate tax dollars for city government.

Additionally, the city will get $50 million in upfront funding this year for the S&WB to help improve drainage and another $17.5 million to help with cash flow problems over the next five years.

The $50 million includes money from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and funding from a loan program related to Hurricane Katrina, as well as funds from the convention center.

Mayor Cantrell said she was told not to shoot for what she calls the city’s “fair share” of money generated in New Orleans. But she said the fight was worth it.

“I started this right around October of 2018, I was told it would never happen, don't even try, forget about it, there's no way that you can redirect and create the partnership that would redirect revenue generated right here in the city as it relates to our hospitality and our industry here,” Cantrell said. "The biggest thank you goes out to the public. This is for the residents of this city. This is for all of our visitors, as well. As I started, I wanted a win-win and I truly believe we have a win-win-win out of this."

Cantrell said next week her administration will unveil the processes for receiving and spending the money. She added that it would be a transparent process.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.