Friday, October 15, 2010

Budgetary Oversight

Mayor Landrieu unleashes the hounds with the New Orleans City Budget.

My first complaint? Property tax increases. Not that I'm specifically opposed to such increases if you get a return on your investment, even as they drive rents up. But how can you raise the mils when your city does not have an accurate or credible system of assessing property values? There are an awful lot of very valuable properties in this city that are not being assessed at value.

Put a serious penalty on out-of-commerce properties, and actually go after their owners for those tax dollars, and you'll go a long way to close the shortfall. We have too many speculators sitting on land and keeping it bligted to reduce their values artificially. Start assessing the properties as if this were a fully functioning city and watch how fast those parcels get sold to people who give a damn.

Priority, priority, priority.

And considering how much money New Orleans' citizens put into their homes on a yearly basis, there needs to be a robust homestead exemption. Give folks a reason to own homes here, not just rent, not just flip, and you'll see strong neighborhoods become stronger.

Couple that with the way money is usually spent by the city - overpaying private (though often well-connected) contractors. Our service delivery is more often tied to private businesses who suffer zero consequences when they do not deliver.

Next up: you have to make it easier for businesses to open in Orleans Parish. While no one has to go the "big box" route, it might be nice to have shopping options other than CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid in one corner and all those Magazine Street boutiques on the other. We could use some more supermarkets, first of all, and I wouldn't mind being able to purchase video games for my cousins at a Best Buy somewhere the sales tax dollars actually go to the parish I live in. Aesthetics can be addressed by zoning and code enforcement and this will bring new money to the city without one tax percentage raised.

Aside from that, there are a lot of things in the budget that I really like, because the proposed changes to city agencies will help us acheive all of the above initiatives.

That's my take, at least.



Dante said...

I hate to tell you this, but Best Buy is "big box." They are even considered a Category Killer.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Let me rephrase: no one has to go the "big box" aesthetic associated with strip malls and giant parking lots.

Our CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens industry plop down medium boxes all over the city already, so we have places where a more suburban aesthetic is accepted. Hell, we have already have unused or underutilized former strip malls and other similar properties on Carrollton, Claiborne and Chef Menteur Hwy in Gentilly. Those areas are ready for infill redevelopment (that can be done to both increase retail options and walkability).

You remember what the intersection of Alps and Baxter looked like when we arrived in Athens, don't you? That's the kind of redevelopment we're going to need in Orleans.

As far as Best Buy being a category killer, your area has to have the category to begin with for that to be much of a problem. Right now, my retail dollars mostly go through Jefferson Parish, because my options are limited as to where I can make my retail purchases.

Zoning and code enforcement, coupled with a more rational permitting process, can attract retailers in Orleans, and our city is big and vibrant enough to support them right now. We're already supporting the same retail over in Jefferson Parish.