New Orleans Must First Thrive for the State to Survive
by Jeff Thomas
As a plane is about to take off, the flight attendants give the same lesson in what to do in the case of an emergency. When it comes to oxygen masks, they always say take care of yourself so that you can help others.
New Orleans is on the precipice of a disaster. We have sashayed into the 21st century with a robust 19th century drainage system. This must be fixed and fixed now. If NOLA goes under water (pun intended), so does the region. And so does the state. Every time it rains really hard…….
If New Orleans cannot completely, efficiently and absolutely pump out rain and storm water every time it rains, then there is no New Orleans.
Out of Balance Tax Structure
Outrageously New Orleans currently receives only 20-23% of the tax dollars generated by tourism in the city. Yet the city funds nearly 100% of support services for tourists. Trash collection, police and fire protection, EMS and oh yeah, water and drainage services are paid for by the citizens of Orleans Parish. Meanwhile, over 75% of the taxes created in New Orleans are spread across the state allowing conservative legislators to reject tax increases in their communities. No new taxes in Jeff Davis Parish, cause New Orleanians know how to host a party.
Meanwhile, the city grapples with crime and crumbling streets and an out of date water management system that is need of a dramatic overhaul. And while it has been easy to persuade people that crime in the city is a New Orleans issue, the same can not be said about water management. Climate change might or might not be real, but tourists will never book a room in a hotel whose lobby only has two or three inches of flood waters in the lobby. “Stay with us at the High and Dry Hotel, where all rooms above the 2nd level or guaranteed free of flood water” can’t be a slogan for French Quarter hotels.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s proposal to divert tourism tax dollars, from funds generated in New Orleans by tourists who visit New Orleans, to fund drainage issues in the city is the kind of progressive leadership our city needs now. For too long, politicians have expected the citizens of our great municipality to fund not only New Orleans but address needs across state, often to the detriment of the city. Crime high in NOLA, humm well we have the W.H. Tupper Museum in Jennings, LA and it has a significant budget shortfall. Tourists in the French Quarter drink stumble and need EMS services, so response times across the city are longer. Conceivably some New Orleanians wait longer for ambulances, so tourists can get to the hospital quickly. That’s just the way it goes.
But all of New Orleans must stay high and dry. The city’s current pumping system is a complex network of pumps and turbines. Some are nearly a century old. Now in the beginning of the 21st century, New Orleans must modernize its pumping system. Rich or poor, black or white, we can all agree that flooding on Bourbon St is not a good thing. Nor is flooding on Louisiana Ave. or Gen DeGualle Dr. And keeping some of the money that is generated in New Orleans before it is siphoned into the state’s general fund is the best way for us to solve this massive problem. Or do you think it’s better to fund the W.H. Tupper Museum in Jennings?
For too long, legislators across the state have hypocritically utilized New Orleans like their district’s ATM machines. 75% of all tourism taxes generated in New Orleans fund projects across the state. Yes! The mighty tourism machine must be fully fed. But if the city is under water none of us will survive. The city of Yes! We should continue to fully fund the tourism network that supports the growth of NOLA tourism, but more of the taxes generated by that tourism must stay in NOLA.
In the case of an emergency, if the state is to survive and thrive, New Orleans must take care of home first.