NEW ORLEANS - The Bureau of Governmental Research has come out in support of a quarter-cent sales tax proposal on the Oct. 24 ballot that would fund extra security for the French Quarter, namely an extended State Police presence.
On Oct. 24, voters in the French Quarter will decide whether to approve a five-year, 0.2495% sales tax to support the extra security. The sales tax would generate an estimated $2 million in 2016. It would expire at the end of 2020.
"The French Quarter is the heart of the city's tourist economy," writes the BGR in its report, which points out the neighborhood has seen a 55 percent increase in crime over the past four years. "Creating a sales tax to fund additional security in the Quarter will improve safety for residents and tourists alike, while appropriately allocating the cost burden."
The BGR does note that the tax is a "stop-gap measure" which can be re-evaluated or renewed in 2020.
"The State Police patrols made possible by the tax would provide significant longer-term support to the NOPD in the French Quarter and help to protect residents, local workers and the local tourism economy," according to the report.
"If the tax proposition fails, the city says the NOPD would need to redeploy officers to the Quarter from other areas to make up for a decrease in the State Police presence. Other components of the overall policing plan, including the French Quarter Task Force and NOLA Patrol, could also be at risk."
The BGR's analysis shows the proposed sales tax would raise the overall sales tax rate in the French Quarter to 9.25% "and the total sales tax rate for restaurants in the Quarter to just below 10%." The group says it would add an additional 25 cents to every $100 purchase made in the Quarter.