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DDD Board of Commissioners Votes to Roll Forward Millage in 2020

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DDD Board of Commissioners Votes to Roll Forward Millage in 2020 to Support City of New Orleans Infrastructure Plan

The decision is to provide enhanced services to address flooding in Downtown New Orleans

The DDD Board of Commissioners has elected to accept a roll forward of the Downtown Development District’s millage to establish an Infrastructure Fund and to support the City of New Orleans’ Infrastructure Plan designed to address the recent flooding events affecting Downtown property owners.

“The DDD is led by a key charge and that is to ensure the quality of life in Downtown New Orleans,” said Board Chair Carla Major. “As such, we have worked with the City of New Orleans; and, through several public meetings, we heard from Downtown taxpayers who expressed their concerns and demands that we need to determine the cause of these recent flooding events and how to correct it.”

The DDD was created by the legislature in 1974 as a special taxing district comprised of 1.2 square miles bounded by Mississippi River, N. Claiborne, Pontchartrain Expressway and Iberville. Downtown property owners pay an additional property tax, on top of their normal City property tax, to augment baseline services provided by the City of New Orleans within the DDD boundaries. According to Louisiana State statute and the State of Louisiana Constitution, these additional monies collected from Downtown property owners shall be invested exclusively within the Downtown Development District.

As part of its plan to address recent flooding problems, the City of New Orleans presented a plan which requires an increase in millage currently applied to Downtown property owners to fund the Plan’s $2.5 million per year budget. The increase required a vote by the DDD Board of Commissioners who made it clear early in discussions with the City that any decision regarding an increase must include robust engagement and input from Downtown property owners, residents, and other key stakeholders.

“The DDD Board of Commissioners held five public meetings to allow the City of New Orleans to present a plan and allow feedback from Downtown taxpayers,” said DDD President & CEO Kurt Weigle. “The City’s Plan has been vetted by the DDD’s water management consultant, Waggonner and Ball, who believes that this Plan will help reduce flooding as it is implemented over time, ensuring that Downtown New Orleans continues to be the most sought-after destination in Louisiana for investors, residents and visitors.”

The Proposed Infrastructure Plan includes:
   o Installation of Pervious Pavement and underground water detention in Parking Lanes to a total of 45 blocks over a five-year period
   o Upgrade of Undersized Main Drains to 15” or Greater
      – Meets “10-yr storm” design standards
   o Underground water retention in Duncan Plaza
      – Storage Capacity – 7,800,000 gallons

Waggonner and Ball provided an analysis of the causes of the recent Downtown flooding events and reviewed the proposed Infrastructure Plan. The report concluded that the proposed improvements will have a positive impact by increasing drainage and storage capacity.

   – Storage capacity of the improved “grey” infrastructure more than doubles the current capacity of the undersized main drainage lines.
   – Large scale stormwater retention in Duncan Plaza will have a major impact on the drainage system with the ability to store approximately 7.8 million gallons of water.

The funding plan approved by the DDD Board of Commissioners for 2020 would draw from two sources:
   – $1.5 million of new revenue resulting from rolling forward the DDD millage by 2.3 mills
   – $1 million from the DDD capital improvement fund made available by postponing other capital projects or finding alternative funding sources. The Board decided to use $1 million of existing funds in 2020 in recognition of and to mitigate the substantial increase in its stakeholders’ property taxes after this year’s reassessment.
   – Disbursement of the funds would be pursuant to a cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) between the DDD and City, which the Board approved today in a separate motion. This CEA stipulates that funds will be made available for work that is consistent with a five-year rolling DDD Infrastructure Plan, approved today as an exhibit to the CEA. As work is completed by the City and approved by an independent engineer, the DDD will issue prompt payment to the City of New Orleans.
   – Because the DDD Board sets its millage rate annually, progress on the Infrastructure Plan will be evaluated each year before deciding whether to continue funding the Plan.

“The DDD believes the Plan approved today will over time substantially mitigate the serious flooding experienced by our stakeholders,” said Weigle. “And, it does so while incorporating the kind of accountability that our stakeholders demanded be part of this agreement. This is a big win for Downtown and the entire city.”

Click here to view the Financial Impact of Millage Increase for Proposed Infrastructure Plan.

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