Governor Edwards, Mayor Cantrell announce funding deal for New Orleans drainage infrastructure needs

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Published: May. 6, 2019 at 12:06 PM CDT
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On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued a joint statement to announce that an agreement has been reached between state, city and tourism officials to address the City of New Orleans’ ongoing drainage infrastructure needs.

The deal provides $50 million in upfront funding payable in the current year for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans to help with its ongoing drainage needs, as well as an additional $17.5 million that will be used to provide cash flow to the City of New Orleans over the next five years.

“Our agreement with the City of New Orleans and tourism officials provides upfront funding of $67.5 million for the city’s critical infrastructure needs, alongside a package of legislation that would provide future recurring revenue for the city,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The people of New Orleans deserve reliable drainage and by working together in partnership, we will be able to make investments to improve its infrastructure. I appreciate the many officials, executives and legislators who devoted time to getting the best deal for a community with a rich and vibrant culture that is on display every day for the world to see.”

“We have a deal – and we are being true to our word: the people of New Orleans are getting more of their fair share, with critical revenue being directed towards our infrastructure at a time when the need is dire,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I’m proud to say we found a way to get to a ‘win-win’ that secures vital funds and unprecedented recurring revenue, without ever losing sight of the City’s best interests in the long run. It wasn’t an easy road to get here, but it was far more important that we get this deal done right – than that it get done in a hurry.”

The $50 million in upfront money includes:

• $22 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding from previous disasters and funding from a revolver loan fund in the Division of Administration from Hurricane Katrina

• $28 million for the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, $20 million of which is new money and $8 million is repurposed funding.

The deal also includes $17.5 million in delayed GO Zone repayments the City of New Orleans owes to the State of Louisiana for Fiscal Year (FY) 21- FY 25. These payments will be restructured and deferred from FY 26- FY 31.

Negotiations involved two working groups created by Gov. Edwards and Mayor Cantrell that met for several months.

Additionally, three pieces of legislation pending in the Louisiana Legislature would provide $26 million in recurring funding annually for the City of New Orleans to address its drainage infrastructure needs.

They include the following: HB 522 by Rep. Neil Abramson which would implement a 1 percent tax on hotels, HB 43 by Rep. Jimmy Harris which would levy a 6.75 percent tax on short-term rentals and HB 589 by Rep. Walt Leger that would authorize the construction of a new hotel and parking garage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

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