by Kevin Caruso
September 30, 2005
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has assembled a 17-member commission of civic leaders to assist with the revival of the city. “This commission is charged with a fundamental goal, [which] is to advise, assist, plan and help the city of New Orleans as it makes recommendations for how we rebuild this city,” Nagin said at a news conference.
Barbara Major, co-chair for the commission, expressed her strong desire to see New Orleans return stronger and better than ever. “Part of my responsibility is to ensure that when this city is rebuilt – and not if, when this city is rebuilt – that it is rebuilt with the inclusiveness that it never had before, in terms of equity and access,” she said. “That's not going to be an easy task, but we know it's a possible task. We can create a model not just for here but a model for the nation.”
Nagin also outlined some of the help that he wanted from the federal government, including tax breaks and a stronger levee system.
The mayor indicated that he wants an “incentive zone” in New Orleans that would provide residents with a 50 per cent credit on their income tax. He would also like to see business receiving a tax credit equal to 50 percent of their total payroll. The tax breaks would remain intact for seven years or until the population of New Orleans returned to the pre-Katrina level.
Nagin also said that he wants the federal government to “immediately” rebuild the levees to withstand a Category 3 hurricane, and then upgrade them so they can withstand a Category 5 hurricane. (The levee system could only withstand a fast-moving Category 3 hurricane before Katrina hit.)