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French Quarter task force is working to earn money for the 'blue lights' patrol in order to keep the quarter safe.

“We know that supplemental security is critical for the quarter and so we are really trying to figure out what that path forward looks like,”

NEW ORLEANS — The future of the French Quarter task force is limbo. 

Vieux Carre voters defeated the renewal of a quarter-cent tax sales tax that funded the program which boosted police in the quarter with off-duty NOPD officers. 

Money for the “blue light” patrols runs out at the end of the year. 

“We know that supplemental security is critical for the quarter and so we are really trying to figure out what that path forward looks like,” New Orleans Director of Strategic Initiatives Joshua Cox said. 

Cox said a few things need to happen before the measure can go back on the ballot for another vote. 

The city wants a new long-term agreement on how the money would be spent and a new advisory board to come up with a security plan for the French Quarter. 

“The “Quarter for the Quarter” is the only revenue that exists to fund supplemental security,” Cox said. “So, we got to figure out how to get it back.” 

The French Quarter Management District which manages the funds objected to how the city wanted to use the tax money. 

The Cantrell administration wanted half spent on police officers and half on a “grounds patrol” of unarmed employees addressing quality-of-life and code enforcement issues. 

FQMD Chairman Christian Pendleton is confident his board and the city can reach a new agreement. 

He says they have the money to keep patrols rolling into the new year if the city lets them. 

“We have enough to keep the patrols on the street into March,” Pendleton said. “At that point we are working on gap funding and a lot of people that have supported us over the years are inclined to continue to support us.” 

Businessman Sidney Torres started the French Quarter Task Force and developed a cellphone app to summon police five years ago with his own money. 

He’s now hoping to broker a deal that keeps extra patrols on the streets long term. 

“I’m not going to be vindictive and turn the app off or take my assets back, my cars and all that,” Torres said. “I’m willing to leave all that in place to try and get something done between now and the time the vote happens.” 

While there are fundamental differences in how the Quarter for the Quarter sales tax should be used, all the parties appear to agree on one thing, the need for a safer French Quarter.  

The city hopes to have a path forward for the French Quarter security tax before April. That’s the earliest a renewal proposition can appear again on the ballot. 

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