Officials representing several public employee and labor unions in New Orleans came out Wednesday in support of a property tax hike for public safety, as well as a bond measure to fund roads, firetrucks and public buildings.
Both the bond issue and the millage, which would increase property taxes by 7.5 mills for 12 years, will be on the April 9 ballot.
“We have a broad base of support,” said Nick Felton, head of the firefighters union.
Other groups represented were the Police Association of New Orleans, the Black Organization of Police, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union and the state AFL-CIO.
That’s particularly true for the firefighters. About $8.9 million of the increase, generated by 2.5 mills, would cover the city’s annual payments into the firefighters’ pension system.
That would free up other money in the budget to pay off a $75 million judgment the city owes firefighters for back pay in a decades-long dispute that was settled in a deal the two sides reached last year.
The police portion of the increase, which amounts to 5 mills, would go toward paying for an expansion of the Police Department as it seeks to boost the number of officers from 1,163 to 1,600 over the next four years.
The $17.7 million the Police Department’s 5 mills would generate would cover the cost of that expansion next year, though additional money would be needed in future years.
The property tax increase has also received the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Bureau of Governmental Research, Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region. So far, no organized opposition to the measure has emerged.