Mardi Gras might be a little dirtier this year in New Orleans. Enhanced cleaning services in the French Quarter are being scaled back after a meeting yesterday between Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans city council failed to reach an agreement on funding for the program. The mayor and council have been at odds over $2 million of SDT Waste and Debris Services' $8 million contract. Despite the council's approval, Nagin is refusing to fully fund the program, insisiting the cuts must be made in order to maintain a sound budget.
SDT first began its cleaning program in the Quarter two years ago, and has won rave reviews from businesses and residents who have gone so far as to call it “Disneylike” clean. Because of the Quarter’s role in New Orleans’ tourism industry, proponents see the cleaning services as vital to the city’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina.The issue was featured in Friday's New York Times. The article quotes nightclub and restaurant owner Earl Bernhardt who sums up the sentiment of most French Quarter business owners. “People have started to come back in,” he says. “They quit coming because it was dirty and it smelled bad. The Quarter smelled like somebody threw up, like a Jolly Green Giant threw up on Bourbon Street. With this sanitizing and deodorizing, we don’t have that anymore.”