Security fee for Marigny and Quarter approved

June 25 2009 | Latest News
But residents will get to vote on the issue

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By Ed Anderson

Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE -- Residents and businesses of the French Quarter and Marigny could be paying a fee for increased security and crime prevention if Gov. Bobby Jindal signs a bill approved by lawmakers Tuesday.

The Senate voted 38-0 to approve largely technical House changes to Senate Bill 256 by Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans. That action sends the bill to Jindal, who can sign it into law, veto it or let it become law without signing it.

Murray's bill would raise about $1.5 million, according to Kimberly Rosenberg, vice chairwoman of the French Quarter-Marigny Historic Area Management District.

Before the fees are imposed on about 3,400 parcels of taxable land in the district, they must be approved by voters in the affected area.

The bill imposes a staggered fee schedule of $185 a year for each residential property having four or fewer residential units; $395 a year on commercial property having a 2009 tax bill of less than $50,000, which would apply to most small businesses and residential property with five or more units; and a 2.5-mill property tax on commercial property having a tax bill of $50,000 or more in 2009.

The district's board would pick the date for the election. If the fees are approved, they would terminate in 2014 unless renewed by voters. Murray's bill also carries a provision that would allow personnel from the district to issue citations for minor violations in the area if the New Orleans City Council delegates that responsibility to it.

At the request of Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, senators voted 37-1 to reject amendments to his Senate Bill 350 that would have set up a commission to study how the nonflood assets of the Orleans Levee District can be used, sold or leased.

The bill was amended in the House by Rep. Ernest Wooton, R-Belle Chasse, to expand the size of the commission and also called on Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot to do an audit of the district's mineral royalties and land ownership in the Bohemia Spillway.

The bill now heads to a joint House-Senate committee to iron out the different versions of the bill.

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