NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Mayor Latoya Cantrell says the City of New Orleans will bridge the gap for security funding in the French Quarter at least until a vote in April on a new taxing structure.
The program, approved by voters in 2015, is called ‘A Quarter for the Quarter.’
It hiked sales taxes in the French Quarter to raise money for security and fund the blue light patrols including increased manpower.
But the French Quarter Management District claims $327,000 worth of those sales tax dollars are held up by city hall.
The management district says it is hoping to meet with the mayor to discuss the future of the program and also have those dollars released to fund the supplemental police patrol program in the Quarter.
Leaders of the management district say they want the money to pay for the program until voters get a chance to decide on a new tax initiative in April, but they claim the mayor has not answered their call for a meeting.
Mayor Cantrell responded Sunday saying the management district failed to manage their resources effectively to keep the patrols on the street.
In her statement, she says, “because the FQMD failed to meet their obligations, the city will be tapping into reserve funds from the French Quarter Economic Development District to continue providing security in the Quarter. The city remains committed to public safety and to solving the security problem created by the FQMD.”
The management district says since the inception of the program, patrols have responded to more than 36,000 calls for service making more than 1,500 arrests and apprehensions.
Joshua Cox, New Orleans Mayor’s Office Director of Strategic Initiatives, spoke in front of City Hall on the issue.
“The FQMD is an entity number one not elected, number two not actually directly accountable to voters, and number three they have demonstrated as to their actions on yesterday that they can’t even manage private funds so it’s foolish to think we should be handing over public funds to an entity that promised to manage supplemental security in the Quarter and failed us,” he says.
Since 2015 the “Quarter for the Quarter” funds went to Louisiana State Police Patrols. That contract ended at the close of 2020.
The French Quarter Management District managed popular French Quarter Task Force programs such as the Blue Light Patrol and Crime Tracking App.
The French Quarter Management District Chairman Chris Pendleton said their organization has run this program and should continue to do so. Previously the program was funded with money from the hospitality industry.
“They haven’t been running the patrols. They don’t know how these patrols run. they don’t have the operational knowledge that we have. They don’t have the history of transparency. They don’t have the history of efficiency that we do doing it which is fine, but to then come out and take some of these cheap shots that are also false and inaccurate it’s just unnecessary,” Pendleton said.
Cox said the French Quarter Task Force costs about $36,000 a month.
The tax renewal will once again be on the ballot for consideration in April with the revenue stream going to both officer details and other quality of life programs such as code enforcement.
Copyright 2021 WVUE. All rights reserved.