Two Tax Proposals on the Ballot

Early voting starts this week.  Sure, you know about the races for sheriff and clerk and city council.  But you will see two property tax measures at the bottom of the ballot.  You must decide whether to keep funding libraries and support housing in New Orleans.  Lets look at the tax proposals oi the ballot.

Libraries and housing are on the ballot. If this sounds vaguely familiar, you’re right. The city council decided to take another bite at the apple.  Because, last year New Orleans voters overwhelmingly voted down these same two measures along with a couple of others.  But this cycle you must only decide whether to keep funding libraries and support housing in our city.  Keep reading because we break it all down in simple terms.

The Library Property Tax

What You will see on the ballot:

To continue the expiring ad valorem tax dedicated to support the operations of the New Orleans Public Library System, which was authorized by voters on November 4, 1986 through December 31, 2021, shall the City of New Orleans (the “City”) be authorized to levy a special tax not to exceed 4 mills (“Tax”) on all taxable property within the City for a period of twenty years (beginning on January 1, 2022 and expiring on December 31, 2041 with an estimated collection totaling $17,498,020 for an entire year if the full amount of the Tax approved herein is levied by the City) for the purposes of constructing, improving, maintaining and operating the New Orleans Public Library System, including the purchase of equipment therefor, title to which shall remain in the public, provided that a portion of the monies collected shall be remitted to certain state and statewide retirement systems in the manner required by law?

Back in 1986 New Orleanians passed a property tax that funded the operations of the city’s library system until December 31, 2021. During this election cycle, voters can reauthorize this tax.  In addition to operations, a yes vote also provides tax money for capital improvements. 

Again voters rejected this last year. But the previous request lacked details about how the tax would be used. So, the current library board hit the streets. They got considerable community input. Then they produced a new detailed budget. Voters might approve it this time.  They plan to use the money to-

  • Develop creative and critical thinking skills in children from birth to young adulthood
  • Expand libraries role in workforce development initiatives by strengthening adult literacy, digital literacy, and small business development programming
  • Create equitable access to library resources for all New Orleans residents, by redesigning physical spaces within branches for more flexible, diverse uses and enhancing digital and mobile services.

Your yes vote creates up to 4 mills of taxes.  The libraries current plan only spends 2.58 mills.  The City Council will have the authority to raise taxes as needed by the library system for future improvements. 

To Read the Library’s 10 year strategic plan called Creating a Library Lifestyle, click here.

The Housing Tax

Ballot Language:

Shall the City of New Orleans, Louisiana (“City”) be authorized to continue to levy a special tax of 0.91 mills on all property subject to taxation in the City (“Tax”), for a period of twenty years (beginning on January 1, 2022 and ending on December 31, 2041 with an estimated collection totaling $3,900,000 in the first year if the full amount of the Tax approved herein is levied by the City), to be deposited in, and used in accordance with the requirements of, the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (City Code Sec. 70-415.1, et seq., as it may be amended from time to time) for the purpose of funding a comprehensive neighborhood housing improvement program and providing affordable housing in the City?

Like the Library Property Tax, this measure also replaces an expiring tax.  But the difference is the elimination of part of the old tax.  The old tax funded both housing and economic development.  The new measure eliminates the economic development portion but continues to fund the housing portion.  If you vote yes, then you approve .91 mills for 20 years to fund the city’s Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund.  According to the city, this fund:

  • Provides financing and other assistance for homeownership opportunities
  • Promotes neighborhood stability by eliminating blight via remediation and rehabilitation
  • Provides financing and other assistance for affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income residents

One of the biggest issues our city faces is housing insecurity.  Gentrification, the pandemic, and Hurricane Ida have stressed the housing sector significantly.  Your yes vote funds the city agency most able to respond to this crisis. 

If passed the housing proposition will generate nearly $4 million dollars. 

Again, voters rejected this proposition last year.  Even now there is not a lot of information out there. City Council members and the Mayor were busy with their personal campaigns.  Voters natural inclination is to reject property taxes.  The City Council website has no easy to find info about the measures.  And the Mayor’s office decided to only create a plan if the measure passes on election day. 

So as an informed citizen, you have to decide.  The proposals will add about $35 per $100,000 above the homestead exemption.  Now you know. 

2 thoughts on “Let’s Look at the Tax Proposals on the Ballot”
  1. This is all still rather vague, as no information is provided on what other funding (and how much) the library system currently receives, and the same for housing. There is no information on how this money was spent in the past, plus how it will be spent in the future is still very general and vague. The fact that these were overwhelmingly defeated last year by the voters, but is back on the ballot only a year later, and without a lot of detail on how this money will be spent bothers me. Apparently we are suppose to just trust the City to spend the money wisely, something many voters may not be inclined to do.

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