By Kenneth Cooper
Maybe the mayor should try another approach. Some sort of scare tactic. Approve the firefighters’ millage or sit back while some of them die waiting on their back pay and pension payments.
Too much? Probably. But what’s the alternative, another rejection like the one voters issued in April? Millage fatigue is real. Citizens are suffering from it. When the mayor holds a press conference, some grip their wallets. Not another dime until you show us where the money’s going. Can you blame them? It seems like everything is going up, sales taxes, parking fees, the school board wants more money, so does the NOPD. But what does the city has to show for it, the same ole pot holes, crime infested neighborhoods, boil water advisories and failing schools? Ambivalence is understandable.
But say you’re on the other side of the equation. Your present boss promises you all sorts of financial incentives, a raise maybe, a nice pension payout, but your new boss comes along and is like, I’m not honoring that. Should you not demand your money?
To be clear, this is not totally mayor Landrieu’s fault. He inherited the drama. But the debt has to be paid. On behalf of the city, he can either oversee a miillage increase that rations a $5 million payment over 12 years or temporarily commit to a staggered plan that ends in a budget altering $17 million annual amount.
But say your heart strings are tugged and you’re like, I’m not about to beat a bunch of firefighters out of their money, there’s still another millage to consider. This one is for the sometimes infamous Sewerage & Water Board. In this case, voters are actually being asked to approve a millage decrease, down from 4.66 mills to 4.46, about a $5-$10 dollar difference depending on your property assessment. If the mayor was smart or if the SWB was held in higher regard, the millage could be marketed as a city department vowing to do more with less. Too bad the SWB doesn’t have a record of doing more with more.
As it stands, the city’s streets remain terrible in certain areas and who knows when another boil water advisory will be issued or citizens will be asked to have patience while the street water takes forever to be drained.
That this millage has been around for almost 30 years may be of little consequence. Millage fatigue just might push citizens to an end game scenario where they reject the millage altogether.
Who’d be to blame for that, irrational voters, a city government that’s at times unproductive or unresponsive, both? Who’s to tell?
What is clear is that this is just another example of how convoluted governing a city has become, to the point that serious proposals don’t get the presentation or consideration they deserve.