Down With Public Use, Long Live Public Use

Yesterday, February 13, 2012, WDSU reported comments by interim New Orleans City Councilman-At Large Eric Granderson stating his desire that the city step up enforcement efforts of franchise fees on local businesses. These “franchise fees” apply when businesses use public property as part of their business operations, be it tables on the sidewalk or a stage in the public right of way. The problem, according to Granderson, is that some businesses pay the fee and a lot seemingly don’t, costing the city, by Granderson’s estimates, as much as $800,000 annually.

Essentially what’s going on here is that the same government that would just as quickly condemn and seize private property under emminent domain laws for the supposed “public use,” gets all upset over the public actually using public property without paying the city it’s fair share. Sure the city has the right to charge fees to people for using it’s property, but aren’t these businesses and their customers already paying fees for property use indirectly through taxes?

This is just another example of the City Council seeing a revenue source and pursuing it aggressively, good sense be damned. Does Councilman Granderson not understand the implication of these fees? Instead of forcing them upon all non-compliant businesses and potentially putting some out of business (leaving no one to pay the fee or the existing tax income), how about repealing this system entirely and allow New Orleans to slightly become more business friendly increasing the tax base through PRODUCTION. I know, a novel idea.  

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