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Library millage approved by New Orleans voters; housing fund rejected

Library exterior.jpg

Of the two millages that showed up on ballots this Election Day, only one was approved by voters.

The New Orleans Public Library will retain its 4 mill property tax with 70% of voters supporting the millage with all but one precinct reporting as of 11 p.m.

The millage comes nearly a year after Mayor LaToya Cantrell authored a proposal to cut the library's funds by $7.5 million. The mayor's administration justified the cut by citing the library's large surplus budget, but the library responded by detailing a shift in funding after a 2015 millage created budget problems.

That 2020 proposal was voted down by Orleans Parish residents, with almost 57% of the vote.

The millage is a renewal that property owners have seen since 1986. The city is currently collecting 2.58 mills for the library, but the millage could rise to 4.00. The millage is proposed to grab over $11 million for the library system in 2022.

The money could help the department move the current Lower Ninth Ward Library to a new location. The Martin Luther King Jr. Library in that neighborhood currently shares a building with an elementary school.

In November, the library system appointed Emily Painton as its interim executive director. The former director, Gabriel Morley, resigned after WWL-TV questioned him about his residential status. Most city employees are required to live inside Orleans Parish. Morley owns a home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The 0.91 mill for the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund will not be extended, with 51% of voters and all but one precinct reporting denying the measure.

Created in 1991 by New Orleans voters, NHIF's dollars help eliminate blight and improve housing around the city. NHIF has morphed over the years to help lower-income homeowners improve their homes to avoid code violations and help tenants facing eviction during the pandemic.

The city has also used the fund to incentivize private affordable housing developments and aid first-time home buyers.

NHIF also draws funding from short-term rental fees.

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