Landrieu's New Orleans hotel tax proposal clears first hurdle
Michelle Southern Reporting
A bill that would authorize the City Council in New Orleans to put a new hotel occupancy tax on a future ballot passed out of a House Committee Wednesday. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants the extra money to improve public safety in New Orleans.
But Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says raising that tax would hurt the city's chance to host big events.
"Conventions, the NFL..they are booking blocks and blocks of rooms and paying them out of master accounts where they are going to have to look at the total they will have to pay to be in the city of New Orleans," said Dardenne. "We have the best city in the world to host these events, we all know that, but economics enters into the equation as well."
The measure would add another 1.75 percent to the already 13 percent occupancy tax rate that hotels and motels have to pay.
Dardenne says $807 million dollars in tax revenue was generated by visitors to Louisiana in 2013 and tourism in the state is hotter than ever.
"We should not be doing anything that puts us at a competitive disadvantage with an industry that is working for our state," Dardenne said.
House Bill 1083 is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Jared Brossett on behalf of Mayor Landrieu.
The legislation heads to the House floor on a 7-6 vote after much of the New Orleans delegation in committee voted to advance the bill.
One of those was Representative Austin Badon, "What's the harm with the people who come to New Orleans and pay that fee...with them contributing a little something to their own public safety?"
"They already are," Dardenne said. "They're contributing what would be the highest rate in America if this goes forward."
Landrieu says he's been Lt. Governor and he's been Mayor of the city. He says it's one thing to advocate for an industry, but it's quite different when you're responsible for it.
"And I am going to call everyone in the city into purpose on the issue of making sure public safety in New Orleans does what it's supposed to do," said Landrieu. "That's to protect our citizens and protect our guests."