Tuesday, 12 April 2016 12:50

Crouere: New Orleans millage defeat shows voters tired of Mitch Landrieu

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Despite overwhelming support among the business community and a frenzy of positive coverage in the local media, Mayor Landrieu suffered a major loss at the polls on Saturday for his property tax proposal.

Congratulations to the voters of New Orleans who rejected the measure to increase property taxes 7.5 mills to pay for public safety initiatives. Clearly, the people of New Orleans feel that they are taxed enough already. On April 1st, a host of new taxes were implemented, including the highest sales tax rate in the nation. With the Mayor’s massive increase in parking meters rates and ticket prices, the property tax increase was just another way to extract funds from the hard working people of New Orleans.

If the issue would have passed, it would have meant that the owner of a $200,000 home would have had to pay approximately $155 more per year in property taxes. The measure would have brought in $26.6 million in annual tax revenue to pay for additional police officers and firefighter pensions.

While more police officers are needed and firefighters deserve their pension payments, economic factors also weighed on the minds of voters. The local economy is already in the doldrums as both the film and oil industries are facing job losses. Nationally, the economy is not doing much better with anemic economic growth. It is never a good time to raise taxes, but now is the worst possible time.

Another factor was the public’s declining support for the Mayor.  A new UNO poll showed that the Mayor’s approval rating has dropped since he began to call for Confederate monuments to be removed from the city landscape. The controversial issue of the Confederate monuments may have been the reason that Landrieu failed to pass his tax increase. If not for the controversial and divisive monument issue, Landrieu may have won enough support to pass his tax increase.

Surely, the election results surprised the Mayor. While the turnout was only 10%, a clear majority of 54% of the voters turned down the tax increase. Of course, the election was the only issue on the ballot, costing taxpayers’ money that could have been saved if the election had been held on another day, combined with other issues.

Usually, politicians such as Mayor Landrieu like to schedule tax issues on the ballot with nothing else, so turnout can be low and the measure can pass. A politician like Landrieu can mobilize city workers, public safety employees and other supporters to vote and hope that the opposition is not as mobilized.

In this case, there was no organized opposition, just average citizens tired of Landrieu and his divisive racial politics and tax and spend policies. Hopefully, this opposition can be mobilized to speak out on other issues such as poor street condition and increasing crime.

At this point, let’s hope that Mayor Landrieu focuses exclusively on dealing with the crime crisis using the adequate resources he has at his disposal.

The distractions of monuments, global warming, and campaigning for Hillary Clinton are not pressing problems for New Orleans and Mayor Landrieu will help his political standing by putting them on the back-burner.

Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]

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