Mayor Cantrell calls for voter approval of restructured millages

Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 4:57 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Mayor LaToya Cantrell says there is a lot riding on three millages this Saturday.

Proposition One is a renewal of a infrastructure and maintenance fund tax. Proposition Two is a restructured library tax which would mean a reduction to libraries of $6 million. And Proposition Three is a housing and economic development tax, higher than it was before.

“This is an opportunity for our city to make the right choice by investing in our people and our infrastructure in ways we’ve never done before,” said Cantrell.

But the Bureau of Governmental Research opposes the millages saying the spending plans lack detail.

“For example, the infrastructure millages are clear in their purposes to be spread between streets, drainage, public buildings and vehicles but there’s not a plan for how the money will be allocated among those uses,” said BGR’s Stephen Stuart.

BGR says the millages do not expire until the end of next year and they urge the mayor to come up with a more detailed plan to present to voters later.

But the mayor bristles at suggestions that taxes wait till next year. She says it is important that they pass now to keep the recovery moving.

“We cannot wait and that’s what I say to BGR.” said the mayor.

BGR is especially concerned about cutting $6 million a year from the city library under restructured Proposition Two.

“In the case of the library’s and economic development millages, those plans if you have yet to be developed,” said Stuart.

The mayor says the library has been operating at a surplus for the past several years and will not be harmed by a reduction which would shift money into early childhood education.

“What we found with the pandemic is early childhood education centers are important businesses because our families need to get to work and our children need to learn,” said Cantrell.

BGR says while the goals of the restructured millages are admirable, they do not go far enough.

“When voters go to the polls they should know that government has laid out a clear plan,” said Stuart.

But the mayor says the time to act is now.

Cantrell says the taxes which generate $25 million a year will be an investment in the citizens of New Orleans. That is a goal the BGR says there needs more accountability.

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