N.O. tourism officials will revise plan to create hospitality taxing zone
Tourism industry officials in New Orleans say they plan to introduce "substantial revisions" this week to a plan to create a taxing zone downtown that would generate money to promote tourism and pay for infrastructure improvements. As The Times-Picayune reports, the plan has met with criticism from residents. Daryl Berger, chairman of the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation, says industry leaders are working with the mayor's office, the city council and lawmakers to amend the proposal being considered by state lawmakers in response to complaints. As is, the proposal seeks to create a new board of as many as 11 appointees that would make policy decisions and have the power to levy taxes and issue bonds. The board members would not have set terms and would not be elected by the public. If passed, the legislation would allow the city to levy special taxes in a new "hospitality zone," bounded by the Mississippi River, the Pontchartrain Expressway, and Claiborne and Elysian Fields avenues. The money would be a sustained source of income for infrastructure improvements in the area. But residents have complained that the legislation is not clear and that its sponsors have not been forthcoming with more information about how it would work. Berger would not specify the changes being made to the legislation, but says they will aim to simplify the proposal, make the decision-making process more inclusive, and better define the board's powers and taxes. Read the full story here.
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