New Orleans — New Orleans voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to extend and rededicate a 6.07-mill property tax to pay for levees and flood and storm protection, as well as the upkeep of Lakeshore Drive.
The current tax does not expire until 2015, but the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East decided to go to voters early to seek a 30-year renewal of the tax, which is expected to generate $15.4 million a year. Tim Doody, president of the authority, said the panel didn’t want to wait until the last minute to seek the renewal.
But the flood protection authority’s efforts to renew the tax touched off controversy this summer when the Non-Flood Asset Management Authority raised objections at a State Bond Commission meeting.
That group oversees assets that once belonged to the Orleans Parish Levee Board and are not related to flood protection, such as Lakefront Airport and Lakeshore Drive. It wanted a share of the millage to maintain its assets and questioned the need to rush to the ballot.
The two bodies worked out a compromise that divides the millage. Flood protection efforts would get 5.46 mills, which Doody said is expected to generate $13.5 million to $14 million. The non-flood group would get .61 mills, which would bring in $1.5 million to $1.7 million, he said.
That agreement quelled opposition from the non-flood asset group, he said.
The tax is critical, Doody said, because it secures the financial future of the New Orleans levee district.
“It’s important because it maintains the system that the federal government has built for us four our protection,” he said.
The millage is also needed because the levee district will have to pay matching funds for that work, which will amount to $10 million per year for 30 years, he said.
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