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.
Recently, I wrote about the New Orleans City Council’s misguided efforts to pass a motion on May 19 to explore banning medium-box retail stores, like Dollar General, in Gentilly and New Orleans East in favor of major retail chains. One of my questions for the Council was who these mysterious major retailers searching in vain for real estate were.
Well, yesterday, August 31, 2011, gave us an update. Now, while this property falls in Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s district, I find it curious that she voted in favor of the motion supporting the medium-box retail ban and is now shrugging at the opportunity to champion the Costco opportunity in the high traffic Carrollton corridor. Rather than spearhead a potential boost to her district through ~300 new jobs, increased tax revenues (even from Jefferson Parish), more options for consumers, and a welcome major reduction of property eyesore, she instead would prefer to see “the number of parking spaces reduced and other small retailers brought to the site” and provides the typical politicianspeak of “I’m not at this time a proponent or an opponent, I told them to reach out to the neighborhoods.” So, which is it Guidry? Do you want large retailers as you voted for in May, or small retailers (oh, remember those terrible dollar stores Guidry voted against? there happens to be a Family Dollar just down the street)? And if twice meeting with you, the elected representative of THOSE neighborhoods, isn’t reaching out to the neighborhoods. Then what is?
Come on, lets recognize this as a welcome addition to an awful stretch of Carrollton and move on with bulk quantity deals and cheap gas to boot. Also, if Susan Guidry can’t manage to support this getting done in her own district, then citizens of District A do yourselves a favor and elect someone who at least admits to wanting to.