New Orleans City Council
   
 
In this issue

City Council December 18, 2008 Regular Meeting Summary

Supports Medicare-Medicaid Crossover Payments

Supports Proposal to Host
NACo Conference & Exposition

Addresses Allocation of Economic Development Fund Millage

Receives NOPD Crime Report

Council Vice President
Donates $25,000 Toward
"Field of Dreams" Project
In The 9th Ward

Council Budget Committee Chair Makes Statement on Behalf of The City Council Relative to the City's 2009 Budget

City Council December 17, 2008 Additional Regular Meeting Summary

City Council December 1, 2008 Regular Meeting Summary

 

 
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NOLA Council News
December 31, 2008   Vol.2, No.2

City Council December 18, 2008 Regular Meeting Summary
(December 18, 2008)

The New Orleans City Council adopted a Motion requesting that the Inspector General review best practices of budgetary processes and perform an analysis of the City's current budget processes and received a presentation introducing Congressman-Elect Cao to the Council and congratulating him on his election.

Congratulates Congressman-Elect Cao
 
Congressman-Elect Anh "Joseph" Cao came before the Council to introduce himself and receive the congratulations of the Council on his recent election.
 
Councilmembers congratulated Cao and expressed some of their individual priorities for the City's recovery, including coastal restoration and flood protection, criminal justice reform, and economic development.
 
Cao expressed his gratitude to the Council for their support and their comments and stated that he is looking forward to working closely with each Councilmember to address issues of importance to the City of New Orleans.

Requests Inspector General Review of Budgetary Processes

The Council passed Motion M-08-688, co-authored by Councilmembers Fielkow, Hedge-Morrell, Clarkson, Head, Carter and Willard-Lewis, requesting that the Inspector General conduct a thorough national review of best practices in budgetary processes in mayor-council municipalities.
 
The Motion also requests that the Inspector General perform an analysis of the City's current annual operating budget adoption and ongoing budget oversight processes. 

Council Vice-President Arnie Fielkow said, "As many of us have stated during the 2009 Budget review process, there is often not enough time or information which permits us the opportunity for as thorough a vetting of the budget as we would like, or that the public deserves. Through this report, it is my hope that we can better determine what improvements should be made to the current budget review process."
 
The Office of Inspector General is expected to present these findings to a joint meeting of Budget/Governmental Affairs Committees for review and consideration.
 
Inspector General Robert Cerasoli was present at the meeting and welcomed the opportunity to work with the Council on this very important item.

To view complete News Release click here.


Supports Medicare-Medicaid Crossover Payments
(December 18, 2008)

The Council passed Resolution R-08-604, authored by Councilmember-at-Large Clarkson, requesting that the State of Louisiana restore Medicare-Medicaid crossover payments so that all Medicare beneficiaries in New Orleans have equal access to their Medicare benefits.
 
Low-income Medicare beneficiaries also have Medicaid, and in 2000, Louisiana decreased payments for low-income Medicare beneficiaries which "crossed-over" from Medicare to Louisiana Medicaid for payment.
 
Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "Louisiana's policy of decreasing reimbursement only for low-income Medicare beneficiaries disproportionately harms poor people with Medicaid. As a Council, we are dedicated to ensuring that all Medicare beneficiaries in New Orleans have equal access to Medicare benefits."

 
The Resolution cites the fact that it is now illegal for low-income Medicare beneficiaries to receive the same benefits which wealthy beneficiaries receive, therefore creating a financial incentive for physicians to move into wealthy neighborhoods.

 
The Resolution reflects the Council's belief that this situation decreases psychiatric access and heightens New Orleans' mental health crisis.

To view complete Statement click here.


Supports Proposal to Host NACo Conference & Exposition
(December 18, 2008)

The Council passed Resolution R-08-724, co-authored by Councilmembers Willard-Lewis, Midura and Hedge-Morrell, authorizing the submission of a proposal by the City of New Orleans, in conjunction with the Police Jury Association of Louisiana and the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, to host the 2013, 2014 and/or 2015 National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference and Exposition.
 
NACo is a prominent and influential national organization comprised of county commissioners, city or parish councilmembers, police jury members and members of other local legislative bodies in all fifty states.
 
Each NACo annual conference brings upward of 4,000 elected officials, spouses and other dignitaries to the conference site during the month of July.
 
District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis said, "This event represents a tremendous opportunity for economic development during a summer month when tourism is traditionally slow in New Orleans. NACo is a prestigious national association, and we would be honored to host their Annual Conference and Exposition in our unique international City."
 
Raquel Dufauchard of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau was present to detail the economic benefits of the conference, as well as emphasize the national attention that an event of this nature would bring to the City.

To view complete News Release click here.


Addresses Allocation of Economic Development Fund Millage
(December 18, 2008)

The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,150, co-authored by Councilmembers Hedge-Morrell and Head, to allocate the 2007 Economic Development Fund (EDF) millage to those projects reflected in Mayor Nagin's recommendations.
 
The Ordinance reflects the goal of the EDF to expedite the economic development of the City of New Orleans through the financing of various projects and/or activities.
 
Recovery Director Dr. Ed Blakely was present to give recommendations and relevant background information on the Economic Development Fund grants including: cost benefit analyses and return on investment analyses, costs, and jobs created by each of the projects.
 
The Council emphasized the necessity of these objective analyses in order to fairly review each project.
 
District "B" Councilmember Stacy Head said, "We must focus on the big picture of economic development while also focusing on the fact that this is a City of small businesses. Through these grants we demonstrate our support for businesses that contributed greatly to our redevelopment and that we believe will continue to contribute to communities and to the City as a whole."

To view complete News Release click here.


Receives NOPD Crime Report
(December 18, 2008)

New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Warren Riley came before the Council to give an update on the crime situation in the City and the progress made by the NOPD.

Chief Riley presented information and data regarding:
-  City-wide crime rates
-  Number of NOPD officers and the success of NOPD recruitment programs
-  Status of police department units and districts relocation into permanent facilities
-  Updates on equipment and technology programs
-  Details on the Crime Lab facility
-  Details on Youth Educational Community Programs

Criminal Justice Committee Chair Councilmember James Carter said, "This Council is dedicated to public safety and criminal justice, and we understand the importance of all parties- police, citizens, judges and public officials- working together to address the root causes of the City's crime problem.  We have to continue to work to instill confidence in our citizenry that we are working every day to address these issues and immediate violent crime reduction."
 
Chief Riley expressed his gratitude to the Council for their continuous support and stated the department's intent to work with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro in the future.

To view complete News Release click here.


Council Vice President Donates $25,000
Toward "Field of Dreams" Project in the 9th Ward

(December 17, 2008)

New Orleans City Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow has pledged $25,000 to George Washington Carver High School's "Field of Dreams" project in the 9th Ward, pending the school's receipt of a $200,000 NFL grant earmarked for athletic fields. The "Field of Dreams" project was initiated by Carver Athletic Director Brian Bordainick and is intended to develop a first-rate athletic facility which will serve as a catalyst for the rebuilding and recovery of the 9th Ward community.

Councilmember Fielkow said, "I am extremely impressed with the passion and efforts of Mr. Bordainick and the 'Field of Dreams' initiative which will provide first-class athletic and recreational opportunities for the 9th Ward community. As a former New Orleans Saints executive, I am very familiar with the NFL Grassroots Facility Grant and very much hope that Mr. Bordainick and Carver High School will be selected. The creation of quality recreational opportunities for our youth needs to be a priority for our city and the 'Field of Dreams' project is a great step in the right direction."

Fielkow, as chair of the City Council's Youth and Recreation Committee, is an advocate of rebuilding and improving recreation in New Orleans. Under his leadership, the City Council has increased the operating budget of the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD), pushed for the restoration of aquatics programs for all New Orleanians and called for the full restoration and advancement of afterschool programs for all students.

About Field of Dreams

Brian Bordainick launched the Field of Dreams effort in November 2008 to rebuild the school's athletic fields, which were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The school's football team was resurrected this fall for the first time since the storm and currently plays on an abandoned lot. Individuals and community organizations are helping the school reach its fundraising goal by purchasing bricks on Carver's "Walkway of Hope."

For more information, visit www.9thwardfieldofdreams.com.

To view complete News Release click here.


Council Budget Committee Chair
Makes Statement on Behalf of the City Council
Relative to the City's 2009 Budget

(December 17, 2008)

After considerable input and recommendations from my fellow councilmembers, as Council Budget Chair, I am privileged to present the position of the majority of the New Orleans City Council relative to the City's 2009 Budget.
 
The time has come for this Council to ensure a balanced budget and act in the best interest of the citizens of New Orleans. This budget process has been arduous and tedious - but at the end of the day we are united in our 2009 budget course and confident that we have been fiscally responsible on behalf of the citizens of this City.
 
The majority of us have chosen to override Mayor Nagin's vetoes. Our action to override keeps in place the budget this Council passed on December 1st.

 
The intent of our action:

1. Fully restores $1.45 Million funding for the Office of the District Attorney. We have also authorized an additional $700,000 as originally requested by the District Attorney.

2. Fully restores $1.7 Million funding for the Office of the Indigent Defender. 

3. Fully restores $200,000 funding for the After School Partnership and the Aquatics program.
 
4. Continues de-funding of $379,000 for the Office of Municipal Investigation appropriating those dollars to the Department of Public Works.
 
5. Fully restores $100,000 to the LSU Cooperative Extension Service; $25,000 to Crimestoppers.
 
6. We are reducing the appropriation for "take home" administrative vehicles, exempting first responders. Additionally, there will be no new cars issued without a utilization study excepting public safety.  

Regarding the Sanitation Department:
 
It is the Council's intent to place 25% of the Sanitation Department's Budget in reserve pending the outcome of the ongoing solid waste collection audit.
 
Further it is this Council's intent that the Mayor support full funding of $4 Million of SDT's enhancement sanitation contractual services.
 
Contractually, it is within the Mayor's power to authorize the enhancement sanitation services for the French Quarter. It is our hope that he will agree with the Council and the public to utilize the service provided by SDT under its current contract.

The Council has looked long and hard at its previous decision to use the Community Disaster Loans (CDL) and the Reserve Fund Balance.
 
In retrospect - we find this to be too risky given the current economic climate. The long-term sustainability of New Orleans is our first priority.

Rather than roll forward the millage, and raise taxes on citizens to balance the budget - as recommended by Mayor Nagin, we agree to proposed reductions to City Department budgets.   
 
The City Charter provides that the City Council can, in this additional regular meeting, override budget vetoes and introduce amendments to its originally proposed budget.
 
We will take action to override the Mayor's vetoes as previously outlined and introduce amendments to the 2009 Budget which will partially restore the CDL to a $5.4 million level.
    
To that end, I move to override the Mayor's Veto.

To view complete News Release click here.


City Council December 17, 2008 Additional Regular Meeting Summary
(December 17, 2008)

The majority of the New Orleans City Council chose to override Mayor Nagin's vetoes and keep in place the 2009 budget the Council passed on December 1st - retaining funding for critical public safety needs and important educational programs for the City's children.

The Council also introduced an Ordinance to be addressed on January 8, 2009 which will amend the 2009 Budget partially restoring the Community Disaster Loan (CDL) to a $5.4 million level.

The budget passed by the Council fully restores $1.45 Million funding for the Office of the District Attorney and authorizes an additional $700,000 as originally requested by the District Attorney.

The Council's action restores $1.2 Million funding for the Office of the Indigent Defender and an additional $500,000 is expected to be generated from the implementation of a fee on red-light tickets. The total funding is expected to be approximately $1.7 Million.

The adopted budget also includes:

- Full restoration of $100,000 funding for the Aquatics program

- Continuation of de-funding of $379,000 for the Office of Municipal Investigation appropriating those dollars to the Department of Public Works

- Full restoration of $100,000 to the LSU Cooperative Extension Service and $25,000 to Crimestoppers

- Reduction of the appropriation for "take home" administrative vehicles, exempting first responders. This will save the City a total of $2 Million dollars - $800,000 on Fuel and Maintenance and $1.2 Million on new car acquisition beyond those needed for public safety. Additionally, there will be no new cars issued without a utilization study excepting public safety. This savings allows the diversion of funds to critical criminal justice and public safety needs as well as provides a funding source of $500,000 for performance based auditing.

Sanitation Department
 
The Council placed 25% of the Sanitation Department's Budget in reserve pending the outcome of the ongoing solid waste collection audit.

The Council encouraged the Mayor to support full funding of $4 Million of SDT's enhancement sanitation contractual services.

Community Disaster Loans and Reserve Fund Balance

The Council also addressed its previous decision to use the Community Disaster Loans (CDL) and the Reserve Fund Balance, stating that the long-term sustainability of New Orleans is their first priority.

With the exception of Public Safety, Sanitation and Recreation, the Council agreed to a 5.58% reduction of every City Department's budget. This will save the City slightly over $4.7 Million. This action will reduce the impact on use of the CDL by more than 50%.

District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis opposed the override. She explained the rationale for her vote by saying that she wished she had had the option to veto line item by line item. She acknowledged that there were appropriations that the Mayor proposed that she was not completely comfortable supporting. However, there were recommendations by the Mayor that she could support.

To view complete News Release click here.


City Council December 1, 2008 Regular Council Meeting Summary
(December 1, 2008)


The New Orleans City Council adopted the 2009 Capital and Operating Budgets for the City of New Orleans and unanimously rejected the 10-mill property tax increase proposed by Mayor Ray Nagin.

Among the areas addressed by the budget ordinance were; elimination of the Office of Municipal Investigation, reduction of the crime camera program, reserving 50% of the City's Sanitation Department Budget and funding of the District Attorney and Public Defender Offices.

Among notable items contained in the Budget; use the remaining $10 million in Community Disaster Loan money received from the Federal Government following Hurricane Katrina; eliminate duplication of services by not funding the Office of Municipal Investigation based on the Inspector General's assertion that the functions of OMI can be assumed by the Inspector General's Office.

The Council also voted to reduce the Operating Expenses of the Chief Administrative Office (CAO) by just over $1 million. The money, previously reserved for the crime camera program, will be transferred to the District Attorney's office. The District Attorney's office also received a budget increase. The increase included $1.2 million for personnel and $250,000 for diversionary programs.

Council Budget Chair Hedge-Morrell confirmed that a portion of the money will remain in the budget to repair the crime cameras ruined by Hurricane Gustav, stating that the transfer of money to the District Attorney's office is a more practical application of the money and will assist in making the city safer for all New Orleanians.

The Public Defenders Office was funded by reducing the following CAO budget items: equipment maintenance by $500,000, fuel reduction costs not to affect First Responders by $800,000 and the budget consultant firm services by $500,000.

Also appropriated was $97,000 to Juvenile Court for funding of law clerks.

The Council, addressing the City's Department of Sanitation Budget, voted to reserve 50% ($20.5 million) of the department's budget until the Council is satisfied that the solid waste contracts are in compliance.

Approves Extension of Suspension of Domicile Requirement

In other business, the Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,261, co-authored by Councilmembers Hedge-Morrell, Fielkow, Head and Clarkson, extending the suspension of the domicile requirement for City employees. The suspension of the domicile requirement will be effective until December 31, 2012 or until it is withdrawn, whichever should occur first. The reinstatement of the requirement will not affect any City employee hired prior to December 31, 2012.

To view complete News Release click here.




 
 
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