French Quarter residents approve new public safety tax

(Art by Eric Styles)
Voters on April 24 approved a new sales tax to pay for extra New Orleans Police patrols and other public safety services in the French Quarter over the next five years.

A tax increase of .245% on all sales in the French Quarter was approved by 72% of voters, for a total of 506 votes; while 28%, or 194 voters, opposed the increase, with eight out of eight precincts reporting. Among the 125 who cast early ballots, 89 approved the tax.

Seven hundred voters, or 20.7%, of those in the neighborhood who are registered to vote, turned out for the special election, according to unofficial results posted by the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website.

The ballot measure was introduced by French Quarter Economic Development District and District C City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer and approved Jan. 14. Voters rejected the renewal of a .2495% sales tax increase Dec. 5, 2020, with only 33% of the ballots cast. The election applied only to voters in the FQEDD.

The new sales tax increase approved on April 24 is collected at the point of sale for items sold in the French Quarter, including hotel stays, or “the use, the lease or rental, the consumption and storage for use or the consumption of tangible personal property and sales of services.”

The tax begins on July 1, 2021 and ends on June 30, 2026, and is estimated to collect $2.5 million each year to fund supplemental patrols for New Orleans Police officers and other services.

The first $2 million collected each year will be dedicated to the supplemental police patrols and any additional revenue divided up to fund more supplemental patrols and other public safety programs, including homeless assistance services.

Funds collected by the tax will be administered by the French Quarter Management District and overseen by the FQEDD Trust fund. Budget and expenditure reports will be provided to City Council for public review every three months, according to the ballot measure.