New Orleans voters will decide on March 30 whether the city should increase property taxes to raise money for elderly services. The plan comes from the City Council but Mayor LaToya Cantrell opposes it.
The Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) released a study Tuesday siding with the mayor and urging voters to reject the ballot measure.
According to the report, if the tax is approved it would raise more than $6 million in the first year, five times what the city currently spends on elderly services. The fund would pay for services such as home delivered meals, in-home care and evacuation assistance.
The tax would go into effect in 2020 and last for five years. It would raise taxes by about $25 a year for properties valued at $200,000, according to BGR.
The report acknowledges that there is a need to better serve the low-income, elderly population; Orleans Parish spends significantly less than other large parishes, such as East Baton Rouge, Jefferson and St. Tammany. But it argues that there is no way to know that the money would be spent effectively because the city has not presented a plan for how the money would be spent, or conducted formal assessments of elderly people’s needs.
BGR says it’s clear that the city should spend more to support this population, but the city has not proven why a tax of this size is needed, especially when there are a host of other competing needs, like drainage and infrastructure.