New Orleans voters yesterday rejected a proposal that would have let Sheriff Marlin Gusman use tax revenue restricted to capital improvement projects on operations at the troubled Orleans Parish Prison, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The no vote came despite the measure’s backing from Gusman and Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The tax rate, set at 2.9 mills since 2008, finances capital projects in the criminal justice system through the sheriff’s Law Enforcement District.
That rate had been declining as Gusman paid off his bond debt. The new measure would have frozen the rate and allowed the leftover balance to be spent on efforts to comply with a federally mandated overhaul of the jail. Landrieu had estimated the tax would have raised $8 million that would not have to come from the city’s limited budget. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research put the potential revenues closer to $5 million. In any case, the cash would have gone a long way toward paying for the consent decree, which a federal court-appointed monitor said could cost as much as $22 million a year.