Mayor Cantrell right to seek hotel taxes for drainage

By Jeff Thomas

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Or maybe being pound foolish and penny wise.  Either way, Governor John Bel Edwards’ choice to not keep a bit more of New Orleans generated tax dollars in New Orleans is an abandonment of New Orleanians, and New Orleans voters should unite and find a new gubernatorial candidate.  New Orleans keeps less than twenty cents of every tourism tax dollar generated by hard working New Orleanians.

Recently Mayor Latoya Cantrell proposed redirecting some of New Orleans based hotel tax income to the city’s cash strapped Sewerage and Water Board for drainage improvements.  The train wrecked agency the mayor inherited from the bedazzlingly incompetent Landrieu administration must be transformed into a state-of-the-art water management agency that is both modern and efficient.  After all, there is no New Orleans if the city is unable to stay dry.  And if the city literally goes under, the state is soon to follow.

For decades our city government has provided police, EMS, water and sewer service and all other amenities to create the atmosphere that supports the tourism industry.  During that same time, our people have toiled long arduous hours providing the required labor, usually for less than a living wage. Now that the city bears the full brunt of the tourism expenses whilst receiving only a small portion of the taxes created is no longer just a unfair consequence of the state tax scheme to syphon money out of the city but has created an unsustainable cost burden on a city with an aging infrastructure that is exacerbated by the hotels and tourists themselves.

New Orleans hotels are marvelous buildings which are some of the most profitable in the world.  They provide jobs and generate millions in taxes every year.  Yet the expenses the city must absorb to protect these assets is not commensurate with the tax receipts it receives directly.  For example, a city with the population of just less than 400,000 people should only need about 1000 police officers.  But to provide adequate police protection for our tourists and citizens our department seeks 1500 officers at its disposal.  This costs the city millions annually.

But more importantly, in some cases our 300-year-old pipes and streets support the influx of 18 million annual visitors to the bowl.  And our unique topography combined with the aging drainage infrastructure has seen increased street flooding around the city.  Some may see the French Quarter as an island, but our citizens live in the surrounding area and must be provided safe and dry housing. Since hotels have more toilets per square foot than any other building, their use of water and drainage is more burdensome on the city’s water management. The mayor seeks to use a proportionate amount of the taxes generated in the hotels to properly protect not only the French Quarter but the hard-working people of our city who make New Orleans the tourist destination that attracts millions.

Currently the state collects over 80 cents of every dollar generated by the hotels. Yet the state provides no support services directly to the city.  For example, even though much of the budget statewide for the state police is generated in NOLA, the French Quarter collects an additional special tax for the state police who patrol the French Quarter.  But more importantly, though the city receives tax income from tourism, in return NOLA gets low wage jobs and extraordinary expenses for support services that contribute to budget cuts and lack of available funding for services our citizens deserve.

A slap in the face?  Throwing the baby out with the bath water?  The idioms are endless.  But the bottom line is if Governor Edwards turns a blind eye to the budget issues of New Orleans, then our citizens should vote him out.

11 thoughts on “Why New Orleans Voters Should Abandon Gov John Bel Edwards”
  1. Question is who would be a strong enough candidate to replace him in the pool of Republicans that wish to shark him out to carry the State, think it would be easier to present another plan to divert his use of our taxes like how to open the 30 ports we have in the state than to simply vote him out. May hate to say it, he is an unlikely ally in an pool of enemies with the state

  2. NOLA deserves and needs a larger share of it’s hotel taxes. Other LA cities benefit from these funds while contributing little. We need a governor that will support NOLA.

  3. She Needs a strong delegation of lobbyists to get Edwards to change his mind. Cantrell has to have a strong argument presented where he will say yes with fact based truth; action plan and financials. He does not have the power to not say yes without compromise.

    Who does she have on her team to lead this effort. If he still says No than he should be put on notice NOLA will not support him for re-election My concern with Cantrell she does not have the right expertise nor people that can carry her agenda.

  4. Well the real John Bel Edwards, please stand UP! He says he is socially moderate!!?? & fiscal conservative! Let’s see he legislation encouraged & passed the: Blue Lives Matter Law! & his rejection of mayor Latoya Cantrell request for a larger portion of the tax dollars generated by Black workers & citizens. then he is not looking out for our interests Sekou Fela

  5. Voting against JBE would be a mistake of the highest order…should we put our fate in the hands of a republican??? Does anyone remember the piyush debacle…do we need more of our hotel taxes allocated to this city??? yes, however the to get rid of JBE is not going to make a republican governor give the money to N.O. and we will lose funding for Medicaid Expansion, Education, TOPS and other vital programs due to the cuts and tax breaks they will give to business and industry which never trickle down to the common man…

  6. I think we surly should go after getting more help from our state. However, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell of getting another Democrat to win that seat. This kind of public fighting against one of our own will only help the Republican agenda. I am sure that the Mayor has an up hill battle when dealing with the S&WBd. issues, but I don’t agree with her decision to handle it this way. I don’t know what the process is to raise taxes on Hotels, etc., but I think it might be an option to just raise the City’s taxes on the hospitality Industry. We don’t know what goes on in these City and State meetings, but I think the Mayor and Governor are both very smart people who should be able to come up with a solution to this Mitch Landrieu Huge Screw-up.

  7. Right On 504 Thomas. You are right in taking a hard look at John Bel Edwards…his true colors are now shining thru for all to see & understand that he does not really represent our interests as Black new Orleaneans! He got to come better then what he is saying if want to get my vote for governor again! Sekou

  8. […] The narrative that the city needs to hire more officers is not only inaccurate, but more correctly couched in the city’s need for more funding from the state.  (Read Here)  Arguably, the city needs about 1,100 officers on any given day in The Bowl.  During Mardi Gras, when The Bowl explodes with a million people actually inhabiting the city, 2,000 officers are a necessity.  Remarkably, the state of Louisiana reaps a whopping 90 percent of all tax dollars from those tourists’ hotel taxes, but the city is responsible for paying NOPD officers.  (The state foots the bill on state police details during the festivities.) This is just one way the state exploits our city.  (Read here for yet other ways the state exploits NOLA.) […]

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