Don’t Fall for Mayor’s Suspicious Millage Campaign

As voters head to the ballot box for the Dec. 5th election, they should feel lied to. Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration has engaged in a full-throated misinformation campaign designed to appeal to voters’ desire for increased City services, all the while deceiving them into supporting nothing more than a slush fund.  

Millages (property taxes) 1, 2, and 3 have been presented as a COVID-19 funding solution that is net-neutral (costing no more than present rates). In fact, these taxes, which were proposed well before COVID impacted us, slash library funding (by 40%) and give it primarily (1.165 mils) to the Mayor’s new, totally suspect and unproven Office of Business and External Services (OBES). While if passed, the taxes would in part benefit infrastructure, early childhood education, and housing, the increases to the funding of each is actually paltry in comparison to the windfall that the still ill-defined OBES would enjoy. 

As if this bait and switch were not enough, Cantrell has no written plan for how the library would adjust to this funding cut.  Meanwhile the City’s Office of Youth and Families continues to falsely state that the Millages will decrease taxes.

To squash opposition, Mayor Cantrell’s Office has issued a gag order prohibiting librarians from speaking out and at the same time violated ethics laws in using public funds (staff via Twitter) to tell voters to support the Millages. Further, the Mayor’s Office pretends there is daylight between it and the head of the library, who once described the situation as “bad news” but now speaks favorably of the millages, when he serves at her pleasure.  

Simply put, the Administration is using propaganda that preys upon residents’ real need for City services to leverage support for problematic and harmful measures. It is one thing to steal from the poor (City residents) and give to the rich (unidentified business ventures that will benefit from this pot of money via OBES) and it is another to do so while claiming it is for the benefit of residents.

The reality is that none of the present millages will expire until the end of 2021, yet the City wants to rush this through, using the Pandemic as a shield to avoid government accountability (i.e., spending plans). 

This duplicitous talk comes at the same time residents are reckoning with the Orleans Assessors’s $30 million tax increase for residents and $42 million tax decrease for big businesses, many of which cater to tourists. If passed, the Millages would further indebt residents to a City that’s cutting their services to court big business. 

If you need money to play with, ask for it, but don’t add insult to injury by telling me it’s in my best interest. Residents deserved straight talk – not scams. Say “no” to an unplanned, big business slush fund at the expense of our libraries and City services. Vote against all the Millages on Dec. 5th. 

Megan Snider is a 7th ward resident and a patron of the Nora Navra Library. 


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