Moving NOLA in an updated Direction: New Millage Proposals

As the world shifts away from the widely publicized United States fight for the presidency, election season is far from over as New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell hosted a press conference on Nov. 16, 2020, to introduce a new Millage Proposal that will be included in the runoff election. The proposal highlights three propositions focused on improving infrastructure & maintenance, libraries & early childhood education, and housing & economic development in the city of New Orleans. 

“Over the past 15-years, particularly post-Katrina, we have spent over 1.5 billion [dollars] in infrastructure investment in all of these categories,” said Mayor Cantrell. The previous millage, which raised about $41 million in revenue over a course of 20-years is set to expire in December of 2020. The goal of the new millage is to create a funding source to maintain the development of investments and is expected to generate about $10.5 million in the first year of implementation and over $375 million in another 20-year timeline. The infrastructure and maintenance millage aims to improve roads, bridges, and drainage as well as maintaining facilities and replacing service vehicles. The plan also includes implementing an annual maintenance and infrastructure schedule which the mayor states “the city never had.” 

  “Many of the challenges that my administration has faced in order to fix are directly aligned with the lack of maintenance over years and decades,” said Mayor Cantrell. 

The library and early childhood education millage proposes to help schools and libraries maintain current programs and allow for restructuring and expansion, investing over $30 million into these programs over 20 years and is expected to generate $4.5 million in its first year. 

“seven-thousand kids in our city don’t have access to an early childhood seat and 30% of our third graders are reading at grade level,” said Emily Wolff the director of the office of youth and families in the city of New Orleans. According to the U.S News and World Report, Louisiana is ranked 48th of 50 for quality of education. Wolff stated that the implementation of this millage will ensure generational healing by providing children with the fundamental tools of education that they will carry into adulthood. 

The final proposition focuses on allocating funds to enhance housing and economic developments in New Orleans with $4.5 million being invested in housing developments and $4.2 million in economic developments. The proposal would ensure Blue and Green Infrastructure will maintain projects, as well as follow a place-based development program for small businesses and a pipeline to improve affordable housing. The proposition also serves to continue programs started in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic such as rental assistance and a mortgage program for homeowners. One specifically named program that will be funded The Owner Occupy Rehab Fund which strives to rehabilitate homes while keeping homeowners in them. 

“We have been thoughtful and prudent, as I’m sure the mayor and others have articulated, this will be relative to a tax decrease on your bottom-line once every piece of the pie has been put together,” said Gilbert Montaño the Chief Administrative Officer of the city of New Orleans. 

Mayor Cantrell is banking on the public’s approval come election day on Dec. 5, 2020, and early voting from Nov. 20-28th. She also stated the bill overall would be a tax reduction of about $3 million starting January 2021 for the taxpayers of New Orleans. Though, when asked if there was a backup plan if the public does not pass the bill Mayor Cantrell said, “it needs to pass that’s the position that we’re taking…it needs to pass in order for the city to not only maintain our investment but to leverage that with the state dollars, to match it, to do even more.” 

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