Mayor LaToya Cantrell outlined tentative plans Thursday to shift some tax revenue away from various local tourism, sports and marketing agencies to improve New Orleans’ crippled drainage and water systems.Oh boy howdy are they gonna need that money at Sewerage and Water. According to the latest in a seemingly never ending string of consultant's reports, it's going to need at least another $50 million a year to refurbish the drainage system.
Cantrell said she would ask state lawmakers, presumably during next year’s legislative session, to shift a portion of hotel tax revenue away from at least four non-city entities, like the one that oversees the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
That money would be used to replace and maintain decrepit equipment at the Sewerage & Water Board, an overhaul estimated to cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Task Force said it would take Readling’s observations into account when deciding what management changes, if any, the members might recommend in January.It could "cost the people" more we even know now. As one cost analysis study after another delivers numbers like these, local officials quickly begin to run out of answers. And as the contry's rightward drift continues apace, they find less and less help is coming from federal sources. At least not without certain strings attached.
Councilmember Jay Banks, Vice Chair of the Task Force, also addressed what he called the 900-pound gorilla in the room.
“What is this going to cost the people?” Banks said. “Whatever discussion we have, that has to be incorporated in it.”
In the feasibility study, Readling divided the suggested $50 million increase in spending by the roughly 136,000 S&WB accounts to come up with an additional drainage fee of around $30 per account. That fee, however, would involve using more complicated millage rates based off property taxes.
Trump’s plan turns infrastructure investment on its head in another way as well. Traditionally, the selection of projects to be funded by the federal government emphasized benefits to the public. The administration’s plan weighs the ability to attract sources of funding outside the federal government at 70 percent when considering whether to support it; economic and social returns from the project count for just 5 percent. Federal funding will go to projects that are most attractive to private investors, rather than to those, like clean water, that meet the needs of communities.Eventually we're going to start hearing from our mayor and council that it's time to talk about privatization. The whole deck is stacked in such a way as to make it inevitable. Of course by the time it filters down to our friends in city government it will be through Kennedy School seminars and Aspen Institute presentations on "best practices" and such so we'll understand how smart they are for bringing it to us.
The only question to ask now is how much time we have left and what, if anything, we should be doing now to extend it. One good idea is we should take all the money away from the tourism plutocrats we can. I'm not sure LaToya understands this.
But Cantrell seemed confident of success Thursday at a luncheon held in her honor by the group Women of the Storm.Incorrect. We want all of that money. We need it and they don't. It's as simple as that.
“I’m not saying that we want it all,” she said of taxes received by the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.; the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority; the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, which oversees the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and other sports facilities; and New Orleans and Co., formerly the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“All I’m saying is that we need a little bit more of what we generate. And I don’t believe it’s pie-in-the-sky. I believe we can do it,” Cantrell said.