New Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn says his top priority will be to expand and strengthen the Kenner economy for the purposes of creating new jobs and increasing the sales tax revenues that are the largest part of the city’s budget. Zahn took the oath of office of January 12, 2017, to complete the unexpired term of former Mayor Michael S. Yenni who was elected president of Jefferson Parish in 2015.
His partial term ends June 30, 2018. Kenner District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur has been acting mayor in the interim. Because Kenner’s $61 million budget is derived largely from sales tax revenues, Zahn says it’s vital for the city’s prosperity to increase retail sales and other transactions that yield sales tax revenues.
In an interview, Zahn said he is supportive of the on-going construction to build a new terminal for the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport that will increase the number of flights that can be accommodated, increase the number of passengers who will arrive in Kenner either as business travelers or tourists and most importantly, keep our residents safe. Another of Zahn’s top priorities will be to aggressively seek a developer who has he resources and vision to develop Laketown into a sprawling upscale entertainment and living center that will revolutionize Kenner’s access to Lake Pontchartrain.
Zahn said he is pleased the city offers unique programs – such as a farmer’s market, free concerts and free movies – that have helped Rivertown pay for its maintenance costs borne by the city and hopes to do more to generate additional revenues. The Kenner 2030 plan developed by the previous administration to improve and beautify Kenner’s business and residential corridors is a program he will continue to support. Zahn said, “Let’s convert Williams into a beautiful, landscaped boulevard with safe turn lanes, walking paths, crosswalks, bus lanes and improved lighting.
The upgrades we make will attract new businesses and improve our vital revenue base.” Zahn said he hopes to develop new programs to attract young families to buy or build homes in Kenner, along with programs aimed at attracting new businesses to the city, while also taking care of our seniors. “Let’s think ‘Kenner First’ when we shop and do business,” said Zahn. “My office will work closely with the Kenner Business Association to promote Kenner businesses.”
The Esplanade mall has tremendous potential as a source of added sales tax dollars and Zahn said he is optimistic about the work being done by the new owner of The Esplanade, Pacific Realty Capital Partners. “I have told them that it may take a considerable investment to turn The Esplanade into the kind of shopping, eating and entertainment center that will attract not just shoppers from Kenner, but from all around the metro area,” said Mayor Zahn. “I have the impression that they agree with me and have a mission to re-develop the mall into something that will become a vital part of Kenner’s economy and make it a great Kenner mall again.”
As an incoming mayor, Zahn said he is fortunate to inherit an excellent police department, fire department and emergency medical services. “One of my goals is to find a way to pay them properly as our lives and the lives of our loved ones depend on them,” the mayor said.
Zahn said his goal is to make so many improvements in Kenner that the city will be the envy of Jefferson Parish and all the cities of the Gulf South. “I am very thankful to have this honor to lead
the city of Kenner,” said Zahn. “I welcome the responsibility and I am prepared to be accountable to each and every citizen of our great city.”