Government & Politics

Legislator to try again for increase in property tax to benefit fire, police spending

Do you want to give the city of New Orleans the right to levy higher property taxes for the police and fire departments?

Voters could decide that if a bill filed in the Legislature passes during the session that will start next month.

State Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, is sponsoring the measure with the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The mayor is supporting it, Leger said, “to pay for additional police officers and other public safety needs.”

Landrieu spokesman Tyler Gamble did not respond to an email request for comment.

Leger noted that crime and the need for New Orleans to hire more police became major issues during the just-concluded mayor’s race.

The measure would authorize New Orleans to levy up to six mills apiece for fire and police. The millage is currently 5.26 for police and 5.21 for fire.

The increase would cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $31 a year.

Nick Felton, president of the New Orleans firefighters union, said his members will support it as they have in previous years.

“Historically, we have supported any revenue measure that would help first responders,” Felton said.

To take effect, the measure would require a series of approvals. First, the Legislature would have to approve Leger’s bill, which would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. To move forward, voters both statewide and in Orleans Parish would have to approve it.

Then the New Orleans City Council would have to authorize a second election in the city of New Orleans. If that passed, then the City Council would decide whether to increase the fire and police millages up to the 6-mill cap.

Charging six mills would raise about $5.5 million for fire and police protection starting in 2015, according to an analysis of a similar measure filed by Leger last year. The amount raised would increase to about $6 million in 2016.

The House unanimously passed Leger’s bill last year, but it died when the Senate took no action on it.

State Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, will play a key role in determining whether the measure advances this year. Neither returned a call requesting an interview.

“Every session has its own political personality,” Leger said in expressing optimism that the measure will pass this year.

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About Tyler Bridges

Tyler Bridges covers Louisiana politics and public policy for The Lens. He returned to New Orleans in 2012 after spending the previous year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where he studied digital journalism. Prior to that, he spent 13 years as a reporter for the Miami Herald, where he was twice a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning teams while covering state government, the city of Miami and national politics. He also was a foreign correspondent based in South America. Before the Herald, he covered politics for seven years at The Times-Picayune. He is the author of The Rise of David Duke (1994) and Bad Bet on the Bayou: The Rise of Gambling in Louisiana and the Fall of Governor Edwin Edwards (2001). He can be reached at (504) 810-6222.


    The Lens NOLA should ask, “How much of Walt Leger’s Proposed Property Tax Increase would go to city employee pension funds, as opposed to current operating costs?”

    Is the current working police and fire going to get all $5.5 to 6 MILLION as salary and weekly paycheck? Or is like 40% of that 5.5 to 6 MILLION going to go to pension funds and future benefits?

    This is very important for those property owners to know.

  • Owen Courrèges

    I agree. I don’t think we need any property tax increase, and certainly not one that supports bloated pensions in dire need of reform. Here’s to hoping this fails again.

  • As a house poor artist penalized for investing in new property, by the still slashed rates of the seven samurai assessors- any increase hurts, but I’m willing to pay more.
    + from others all we get is bitch, bitch, bitch- then blame Mitch- and we have enough cops, and gives no other viable solutions.
    Yet- what about this? Officer cost X per year- Camera cost y…
    Cameras and licence plate readers require dental plans,,,
    Budget and fund for 1450 officers (or #)-.
    Then legislate- each day NOPD drops below 1450- those dedicated funds be taken and used to install cameras, with some dedicated to private property owners willing to provide internet access as to link..
    Screw big brother Orwell- the box is open and pictures convict.

    State Constitution would need a tweek, but it worked for solar why not this?
    Best from Freret


  • Owen Courrèges


    As I noted in a previous column, crime cameras just don’t work and are certainly no substitute for police. London has gone absolutely nuts with crime cameras, and they rarely solve crimes.

    As for the numbers of police, our force is well above the national and regional average in terms of officers per capita. I believe our police manpower is being poorly utilized and that we should not allow this poor utilization to be used as an excuse for raising taxes.

  • And your solutions are?
    and you have the leadership and political will to?
    I know you mean well and have statistics, but we are not North Bumblesotta- Go talk to cops and folks on the street- NOPD is in a MAJOR CRISIS!!!! and talk is cheap-
    – “London and national trends” don’t have our criminal justice system, incarceration rates (highest in the known universe), and depths of cycled poverty that sets a kids moral compass to death by 25.
    + do the NOPD math= Low pay+horrible moral+high stress+ etc..= 22 year veterans in high speed chases, and X # suspended with out pay-
    Thought we came a long way since Antoinette Frank, this is scary + even with present classes and recruits, in 2 years- will be lucky to hit 1200- + Were standards dropped to get those?
    NOPD needs X + Y + $ to = to recruit good ASAP!!!!!
    As to CCTV- please look past the camera for a bigger picture…. .
    Internet is needed to network- start in high crime areas- pay ATT to convert old pay phones into router hubs and provide free internet 24/7 to the folks who live there and give them cameras for free….
    Other solutions?…
    Best from Freret

  • Owen Courrèges


    NOPD officers are paid on part with other cities in the region. Morale is likely low because of poor leadership and the pending consent decree, which is itself the result of chronic mismanagement and widespread misconduct in the past. There simply isn’t any real evidence that the NOPD is undermanned or underfunded as opposed to ill-managed. We need to fix the management, and if some police still have a problem with that, then perhaps they’re part of the problem.

    I’ve said before that surveillance cameras can be helpful, particularly in the short-term, and particularly if they are put in place voluntarily using private funds by private residents. However, a massive, government-driven surveillance network is likely to be ineffective in the long-term given the experiences of other cities. That’s the harsh reality. Cameras are no panacea.

  • Mary Jane French

    The City has budgeted for up to 1600 officers. So, why do we need a property tax hike for budgeting for 1450? My taxes doubled last year. There are other ways to raise funds. How about collecting the $150 million in outstanding taxes owed, the majority of which are from hotels/business? How about requiring businesses who are not legitimate non-profits to pay their fair share of property taxes? The answer is that there is no political will to do that. The only solution I ever hear is to raise taxes. That is not acceptable as you will only end up with a city of very rich and very poor – slowly driving the middle-class out. And, that is not sustainable.

    Continuing to tax those of us who live here is not the solution. How about re-directing the NOLA FOR LIFE money away from million dollar billboards and ministers who know nothing about crime prevention?

  • Agreed and very good points, with a middle class as the key.
    How do we get there and to 1600?????
    Your property taxes doubling on one year proves to me we are still badly haunted by the ghosts of Betty Jefferson and other Seven Samari Assessors.
    As to taxing non profits- LETS PUSH FOR IT!!!!!
    Write letters- look at others efforts-

    Use Errol Williams own data here:

    if that link does not work-
    Use the map and look for mistakes and post.

    Example: Why is it my Freret Street neighbor who owns an entire City block pays the close to the same as me?
    How do I know- I used the map…
    Will this get 1600 cops? Not in the short term- so I’m willing to pay more until we all demand these non-profits add something + find other ways…
    Best From Freret,
    Andy Brott