Increasing the French Quarter’s sales tax is Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s big idea to fixing the problem of violent crime in the Quarter, which he announced today, though it is hardly new and fresh for the New Orleans Democrat.
Landrieu’s proposal will ask French Quarter residents to approve a quarter-cent increase in sales taxes to pay for Louisiana State Troopers to stay in the city long-term.
The plan will approximately generate $2 million in revenue from the French Quarter’s 9 million visitors, according to Landrieu.
And then there will be another $2 million in revenue from organizations like the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Additionally, another $500,000 will be from the city’s 0.25 percent hotel self-assessment.
Altogether, Landrieu plans to have roughly $4.5 million in revenue to pay for the long-term State Troopers, which only plan to stay in the city until the end of 2015.
If French Quarter voters approve the increase in sales taxes in October, the increase will hit French Quarter-goers in January 2016 and it will last for five years.
The New Orleans City Council will likely approve the increase in sales tax and a resolution that will place it on the October 24th ballot.
Until then, Landrieu outlined what he and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) will do in order to remedy violent crime:
– Bolstering manpower in the NOPD’s 8th District
– Assigning all or a portion of Violent Crime Task Force officers to daily patrols
– Reassigning officers from behind desks to patrols
– Doubling the allocation of overtime
– Streamlining process for applying for Vieux Carre Commission security camera permits
– Adding NOPD detail officers to Bourbon Street with help of French Quarter organizations
Landrieu’s proposal comes right after famed business owner Sidney Torres has announced his own plan to combat violent crime in the French Quarter, which business owners and residents have praised.
Torres’ plan creates a mobile phone app which residents and tourists can use to alert patrolling, off-duty NOPD officers where a crime is occurring in the area.
The raising of sales taxes is Landrieu’s second idea for fighting French Quarter violent crime, with the first being the creation of the unarmed, “NOLA Patrol.” The unarmed patrol is designed to shore up NOPD officers from issues like traffic stops.
Landrieu has asked for tax increases before.
Just last legislative session, Landrieu pushed the legislature to approve three different tax increases to be put on a ballot before New Orleans voters.