MAYOR CANTRELL CALLS HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY PROPOSAL FOR NEW TAX “INADEQUATE”

Shortly after local hospitality industry leaders held a press conference today (Thursday, Dec. 6) to tout a proposal to seek legislative approval of a new .55 percent hospitality tax that would go to the city of New Orleans to address infrastructure needs, Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement, calling the plan “inadequate.”

“I’m happy to see the industry leaders now acknowledging the importance of these issues, and I appreciate their proposal as a first step,” the Mayor said in her statement. “But it is not adequate to the scale of our need. Calls to ‘make a plan’ are inadequate. We’ve had plans from the outset, from the Urban Water Plan to comprehensive drainage repair. What we need is revenue.”

According to the proposal that was detailed by New Orleans and Company CEO Stephen Perry at the Thursday afternoon press conference at the Audubon Tea Room, the .55 percent tax would generate about $6.7 million annually. According to the plan, The money would be bonded out with the potential of yielding $81 million that would go to a city infrastructure fund.

This proposal comes on the heels on the Mayor’s recent push to have more of the $200 million hospitality tax revenue already generated and currently funneled to tourism and sports industries directed to the city’s general fund to address infrastructure need. The lion’s share of these dollars goes to the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority and the Louisiana Stadium Exposition District. Last year, the Exhibition Hall Authority received more than $47 million. The Stadium District, the entity that runs the Superdome, collected more than $50 million. Meanwhile, the Exhibition Hall Authority is primed to make give $40 million to the developers of the planned convention center hotel expansion.

According to the Mayor’s statement, “We need an additional $80-100 million dollars, annually, to address the needs of our City’s infrastructure. The wellbeing and the economy of our City, and the economy of our state, rely on an adequate infrastructure. Right now, it doesn’t exist.”

The statement continued, “We’re not asking anybody for a favor. Last year, our people generated more than $200 million in hospitality revenue—but less than 10 percent of that came to the City. Seventy percent of that $200 million went to just four hospitality agencies. We generated roughly $166 million of that in local lodging taxes alone—but less than ten percent of the total came to the City to address our infrastructure needs. Over the past year, this City has seen 18 million visitors. Only 1.2 million of those passed through the Convention Center. I will continue to fight to get our people all that they deserve. This is our approach across the board. We’re establishing a new infrastructure fund to ensure all redirected revenue is allocated towards these vital infrastructure and maintenance needs. We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders to make this a win-win that benefits everyone.”

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