A state representative is proposing to redirect about $16 million a year in taxes from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to an independent board that would spend the money on fixing streets in New Orleans.Yeah get 'em! We've been clamoring about this for years. This is revenue raised off the backs of restaurant, hotel, and casino workers, musicians, cab divers, everyone who makes the "tourism economy" go. That includes pretty much all of us who make this place our home. Even if you aren't a celebrity chef or a busker with heart of gold or whatever, you probably take in your share of parades or Saints games or you know that one way to cook that one thing your grandma made. It takes a whole city to "bear a culture." We're all New Orleans. Some people are in the business of selling a version of our life to tourists. We deserve to share in the benefits of that. Some stupid board of political insiders shouldn't get to decide.... oh wait a minute...
The proposal, by state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, would take the revenue from two existing taxes away from the center. The taxes, a 1 percent tax on hotel rooms and a quarter-cent sales tax on food and drinks sold citywide, were put in place by the Legislature in 2002 to fund an expansion of the Convention Center that has not taken place.
“I understand that tourism is one of the backbones of our economy, but our city can’t crumble around our tourism district,” said Hilferty, a Republican whose district includes Lakeview and parts of Metairie.
The money would be overseen by a nine-member board including representatives from each City Council district, to be be appointed by the state lawmakers from those districts, plus representatives of the city’s Department of Public Works, the Sewerage & Water Board, the Regional Planning Commission and Louisiana Associated General Contractors.Oh dear... always a catch. Have to say, though, if we're choosing between rackets, this might be the slightly better one.