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New Orleans Mayor Landrieu proposes quarter-cent tax hike on all French Quarter purchases for increased state police presence 

Landrieu says tax would raise $2 million per year for state police presence

  Would a quarter-cent tax hike on all purchases in the French Quarter be enough to provide adequate police protection? Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison and leaders from the tourism and business communities presented the idea at a news conference last week in front of the 8th District Command Center on Royal Street.

  The press conference followed another violent weekend in the city's tourism hot spot, which saw a shooting death, an aggravated rape, two cases of simple battery and one of aggravated robbery, all in the nightlife- and visitor-heavy Upper Quarter.

  Landrieu billed the tax as a sustainable revenue source to pay for a permanent Louisiana State Police presence in the French Quarter, though it would have to be approved by the New Orleans City Council — and French Quarter residents would have to vote in October to impose the tax. With 9 million people visiting the French Quarter each year, Landrieu said the annual take would be $2 million.

  District C Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, whose district includes the French Quarter, said crime is "one of the most difficult issues we've faced." State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, also praised the effort, as did representatives from the French Quarter Business Association, the Vieux Carre Commission, the French Quarter Business League and other organizations.

  The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center have agreed to fund $2.5 million of overtime spending for Louisiana State Police to patrol the French Quarter through the end of the year. Melvin Rodrigue, CEO of Galatoire's Restaurant and chairman of the board of the Convention Center, told Gambit those officers were put in place last week.

  Harrison also thanked local businessman Sidney Torres. Following a television commercial in which Torres criticized the mayor's approach to fighting crime, Torres created an app that lets citizens report crimes to the NOPD from their smartphones. He also has personally paid for three NOPD detail officers to patrol the Quarter. Torres' company, SDT Productions, has partnered with the city and the French Quarter Management District to provide a Polaris ATV patrol of the Quarter.

  The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) — frequent critics of the Landrieu Administration — quickly responded to the mayor's proposal with a press release calling the tax proposal "another insult to NOPD." Donovan Livaccari, an FOP attorney, said in the release, "Augmenting the NOPD's police presence in only one district at an additional cost to the taxpayers is just bad policy."

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