Thursday, 02 September 2021 21:21

Federal Money ‘Key’ to Rebuilding Louisiana After Hurricane Ida

Written by William Patrick, The Center Square


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As Louisiana continues to recover from Hurricane Ida, lost economic activity could develop into a major concern without timely federal support, placing additional burdens on taxpayers and local governments.

Nearly 1 million electricity customers remained without power as of Sept. 1, including nearly all of New Orleans and 10 surrounding parishes in southeast Louisiana, according to poweroutage.us. Another seven parishes are at least 60% without power.


Emergency distribution sites for basic necessities such as water, tarps and food rations are available in place of shuttered or damaged grocery stores in devastated communities. A real-time Walmart store map shows 26 locations remain closed from greater Baton Rouge to New Orleans and throughout the southeast region.


As relief efforts focus on survival needs, the storm’s impact on residents, businesses and local economies could lead to significant government revenue losses and associated services without immediate federal recovery aid.


“Federal funds are the key,” said John Gallagher, executive director of the Louisiana Municipal Association.


Based on previous storms, sales tax revenues decline from businesses being shut down, evacuations and damaged property, he said.


“Once the recovery starts and federal funds come in to help rebuild and communities start opening up, I think you’ll see an increase in sales tax revenues,” Gallagher said.


According to the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit, Louisiana has the highest combined state and local sales tax in the country at 9.55%. The revenue raised from taxing applicable goods is used to fund public services.


The more widespread the damage and...

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