New Orleans voters approve 2nd attempt at sales tax for more police patrols

The ballot measure requires the first $2 million of the tax to fund extra police patrols in the French Quarter

By Jeff Adelson
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

NEW ORLEANS — The second time was the charm for a French Quarter sales tax to fund police patrols.

Voters approved the tax with 72% of the vote Saturday night, just six months after shooting down a similar proposal in the fall elections.

The 0.245% tax will be in place for five years. The ballot measure requires the first $2 million of the tax go to fund extra police patrols in the French Quarter, with any additional money being made available for other police or public safety programs.

The sales tax has been a source of friction between the French Quarter Management District, a state board made up of representatives of various groups in the Vieux Carre, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell's administration.

The Management District and the Cantrell administration were unable to agree on how the tax should be spent before the previous election. The board eventually recommended voters say no to the tax in the fall, and they did just that.

The main conflict between the two was how the money would be spent. Cantrell administration officials had sought to split the money evenly between police and quality-of-life patrols that would issue minor citations and look for code violations. The Management District, on the other hand, had pushed for the lion's share to go police.

Under the new plan, the Management District will oversee the funds, though no agreement is in place yet with the Cantrell administration.

The original sales tax was passed under former Mayor Mitch Landrieu in 2015 as a way of getting money to pay for State Police patrols in the Quarter. It was one of several programs that were put together that year as crime in the city's main tourist district rose.

The State Police patrols have since ended, and the sales tax expired when voters opted not to renew it in December. The new tax is expected to fund additional off-duty New Orleans Police Department officers to replace those who had patrolled in smart cars under a different program paid for by the hospitality industry before the coronavirus pandemic.

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