09/04/2019

Alumni Spotlight: Stephen B. Stuart `98

Loyola University accounting major Stephen Stuart is Vice President and Research Director of the award-winning Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR). Under Stuart's leadership, BGR earned the Governmental Research Association's 2019 award for Most Distinguished Research for its report The Lost Penny: An Analysis of the Orleans Parish Hotel Tax Structure

Stuart attended Jesuit High School and followed in his father's footsteps by enrolling in Loyola's College of Business.  As a student, Stuart participated in the University Honors Program and served as Editor of The Maroon newspaper. He graduated magna cum laude in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in accounting and a minor in communication. Stuart began his career as a business reporter, covering the oil and gas insdustry, real estate, local government privatization, and economic development efforts for New Orleans CityBusiness magazine. 

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a local independent research organization dedicated to informed policy-making, hired Stuart as a research analyst in 2002. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Stuart's work at the BGG focused on providing reliable and accessible recovery information and modernizing the Orleans Parish property assessor's office. As the city began transitioning out of recovery mode, BGR's research focused on strengthening local government. Key research areas from this period included contracting reforms, financial management and reporting within the local charter school system, and public pension reform. The BGR named Stuart Vice President and Research Director in 2017.

BGR's work was recognized twice at the Governmental Research Association's 2019 conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, in June. The report The Lost Penny demonstrated that the City of New Orleans was receiving less hotel tax revenue than recommended by best practices and peer cities, and showed that this low revenue rate resulted from the 1966 suspension of a 1% City hotel tax. On the basis of these findings, the Louisiana State Legislature restored the "lost penny" in its 2019 legislative session. This change became effective on July 1, 2019, and the additional 1% hotel tax will generate an estimated additional $12.3 million in increased tax revenue this fiscal year.

BGR also received a Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Policy Achievement for its work to improve the Jefferson Parish School Board's employee raise tax proposition. The findings of the BGR's report On the Ballot: Jefferson Parish School Tax Proposal were used to create a successful ballot measure for increasing school teacher salaries in Jefferson Parish which voters passed in April, 2019. 

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