WWL>Topics>>11-25 1:10pm Angela, NOLA budget approved

11-25 1:10pm Angela, NOLA budget approved

Nov 25, 2013|

The New Orleans City Council approved an $859 million dollar budget. But, what does that mean for us…for police officers, street repairs, OPP? She talked to council women Susan Guidry , Stacy Head, and Kristin Palmer.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

And happy Monday to everyone and it is a happy Monday because I'm surrounded by outstanding women and and explain that in -- second. The holidays are officially here and that means Turkey and dressing Christmas lights soon and presents. And that means getting something special in the mail your property taxes. Yes December brings more than -- and caroling. But the good news is we now know where our money will be going as a City Council has passed next year's budget. Here to talk about the details of the budget are counsel women Susan -- drink. Kristin Palmer Stacy hand and then the next half hour will be joined by council president Jackie Clarkson I'm honored and I really am. We have tried tried tried you've been so busy working on the budget which we totally understand because it's probably the single most important thing that you'll do is. Now we're living within our budget is that the the main thing we learned. -- working very very hard for. Oh yes we passed a balanced budget and we're gonna try to keep within it and also with a with a reserve this year which we didn't have in previous years. So I think when you look at the fact that we started. On three and a half years ago with the budget deficit of over 79 dollars. We've come a very long way in terms of how we really realigning themselves. And you had to make some cuts and that's part of it. But let's start with the prioritizing. Of people's concern about crime and it seems that the NO PD is going to be okay. And that the effort to hire more officers. Got another hundred cars got the body cameras is a move in the direction of OK this is how much we can address it. That's right and I I think this City Council spoke up loudly on that its board this year's budget. Last year when we. But appropriated sport to. Police classes in 2013. As very excited to attend graduation and the first of those recruit classes last week. And the second one is at it that last I heard they had eighteen people so far for the second class so that when should be done sooner started soon. And then we've. Appropriated for five more classes in 2004. Team and we need to make sure that we don't miss this opportunity since this is -- probably one of the -- listen to shows in the gulf south. For anyone looking to make a career that is I'm more than dentist a job it's say and fulfilling the profession. That has great benefits and you can be part of making New Orleans a city should be sent they're doing a lot of recruiting. Good starting salary. Nice promotional opportunities that's within the council has made sure that we have a regular promotional opportunities regular tests for sergeant and the -- eggs and -- have to guarantee actually. In the next few months so anyone interested in a career with inner beauty please go to the website. I don't know. Actually outside and -- be -- in new Orleans police recruiting. You can find out how to get information on that because we are actively recruiting. Lateral hires new hires you do have to have some college experience -- military. And really looking for the finest men and women to serve in and PD. And should expect nothing less than that I do that just because we've done a number of programs both with chief surpass him with the various unions. Talking about the domicile issue is an issue. It. -- -- we look at how far we're progressing I think we all understand the philosophy behind the domicile but we're also look at it at a city that is. -- fastest growing population. And one pass in the country. We have some neighborhoods there just doing so beautifully well. We have a lot of on homeownership opportunities that we didn't have before with experts who are soft second program which. Depending on your income and it's actually almost 65000 dollar -- forgive herbal grand. To buy and purchase a house of actually even have. Things right now that I think we really to push they do you think were were under utilizing them. On the that I know that's not just for police -- for anybody correct correct for anybody and and it's been highly successful and -- wants right now all over the city and so that's in me is is a huge bonus you can just look at them at the main reasons of why you wanna move to the senior white wanna live in the city and the police officer. We have all of our our schools as you know are doing so fabulously in all three in my children -- to public schools. And you know we have these assets that are coming online throughout the city from our new libraries. On we had you know not just any school buildings -- a lot of -- we have the same rock market that that's opening -- an and you see every single district. What's happening on the -- market that's going on -- my district I think that's wonderful asset. On -- an avenue in retaliation KG BC was going on on Carrollton. BC was captain of the river walk right now which affects my district and also the West Bank in terms of the seven million dollar investment and jobs and and retail that we had them before. We've had the redesign and be working in new retail coming on to general McDonnell and -- plaza. So where where I'm saying is we're in this we're in this wonderful city where things are really changing. And I do believe that we can we offer now a substantial. Better quality of life than we've had in the past and I think people feel that we still a long way to go with -- issues with. With -- had other conflict issues -- do you feel that. This is an exciting time to it and want it ended isn't and clearly I think people are feeling better about it you're talking about the retail -- that's real. And it's wonderful to hear that there is help financially. For people wanting to move in because. That is an issue for officers -- -- huge issue and yes they're making enough money that teachers sent that right first responders yes and -- anybody can take advantage of this program and I'm from Hadley to where you can get to the city website and go into that the housing component of it and it's called the soft second program. And them and also a lot of our nonprofit providers and housing are also working people's time qualified and neighborhood housing services is one. And so I really believe that we have a unique opportunity. And it's a buyer's market. -- properties Ecstasy on May have on metadata properties are selling it twice the level than others in the past. And I think now's the time to get again you know and and I look attitude from when I was at my first house that's 25 years on about a second double for 35000 dollars so you know and that allowed -- stick to can continue on and and and him by many other houses and properties I just think. You know that this is where the city is right now I'm just one more people to be able to build wealth and equity. -- and I like to add something to it's an idea of providing incentives for people that we need to be in the city we need to live in the city. We have I've talked for years and -- memos on an attractive my colleagues and I talked to that the administration about the idea of using some of our needs money neighborhood housing improvement fund money which is in -- we all pay every year. It brings in about two and a half million dollars using that money for a pilot program for first responders. So that. Let's say they come in and they make too much money to take advantage of one of the one of the soft second programs sometimes that does happen that it they have a dueling company and only eighteen capped out and they're not able to take advantage of some of those items programs Christa was just talking about. Which it had a low threshold program. To start when a 500000 dollar pilot for example in cities had done this all of the country we're. We -- new police officers 8152025000. Dollar. Great -- if -- homestead in the city of New Orleans. They are going to get that forgiven in the next few years and in fact increase that -- that I house was vacant in the last. Within the last six months so that's something that we can do it's very proactive to try to make it more attractive to live in the city New Orleans and to be part of discrete. Growing economy. And I might add I actually am generally supportive of the domicile rule but I am mourned the two co authors said that. Proposal to. And to set the rule aside for at least a year to see how that helps our recruiting. -- particularly of lateral hires but of all of our emergency personnel. And I guess I feel like that's something we can do right now. Act like the crime problem is is so critical. And that if we can act now. And possibly help. With recruiting and we ought to do that. I'm all for all the incentives programs that people have been talking about. But I have not seen them happen and I think that accounts and it must feel they might. This morning and make it happen this morning I was talking to my chief of staff. And I asked him to begin to put together a group. To have a committee meeting whether it's governmental affairs or criminal justice sent -- both of those -- it would go under either one of those. With everyone in the administration -- whoever has some ideas. On how to make these incentive programs work as if we're gonna hold up in and keep the domicile ruled and let's get started on the other thing the incentives cement and know that some of you guys that work and we -- we've all -- a general answer it two years I think we need. I managed to gather on the Afghan -- and had a happy where women can happen here from London inclined to civics lesson here talking with Kristin Palmer Stacy head Susan -- Our three counsel women. We're talking about the budget and on learning that even though the budget may be done innocence and every department is divvied out money. It doesn't necessarily go where you think it was going to go out is that the bottom line. I think it's fair to say I'm in the Arab charter is -- Council obligated -- New money in Q. Charter sanctioned departments. And so once we have knew that money. It could be tens of millions of dollars to the hypothetical because everybody's upset about the streets in the embarrassed about the life so public works gets a budget. You had -- the budget and with that thought in mind you think it's gonna go to lights. And streets we didn't exactly get presentations. During the budget hearing about what they plan to stand. X millions of dollars. And it gets into two categories one is people personal services and other is in other operating which is everything else which is. The street like contracts any equipment that they need paper that they need supplies. And so. The weight that we decide the appropriate amount to stand is on the presentations that are done for us and usually dies itemize it -- expenditures. Into various categories such as street lights. Street signs stop signs. Small -- payers pothole killers we don't have any this year but that's just insane look what we've done in years past. So and office supplies those kind of things for for example the department public works. But it's completely legal in fact it does happen. For departments to completely change what they prioritize what they decide to stand on. During the year and sometimes that does happen without the council's knowledge. So. Everybody is screaming about why can't we get the lights fixed and all the answer is always we have 40000 of them are gonna get this many done this many done. You have been given enough money last year took supposedly fix the lights or as many as possible. -- -- -- We read last year we utilized CD BG dollars on suits you prepare the lights and ten million dollars -- and were told that that's it that's the amount that it would it would. Take -- There are other however -- BG dollars are. I'm not a flexible to some degree but not all degrees and I think what -- happy that there are some issues with maintenance and I think the -- and recovered. I CD BG I don't think the entire Summers was able to be utilized. In terms of lights that that's my understanding we're we're still dealing with the majority of flights. That. It's not just switch ball is just not a serious threat and and so. So there's there's that issue. An and I think miners and his amnesty BG dollars to -- have to -- users -- -- that numbers and then some some not so. There is it was limits team in the in the way we used to see BG dollars. I think that the policy issue that's something I've always had consternation is that we've really -- a lot of holes of the past three years with me -- block grant money which. Has certain restrictions. And -- -- it we lose it and sometimes we -- as an -- guys cutting. So that's that was the result how much I do wanna say is that it's very important is that 2010 senses. You know we we did not reports the degree that initiative and -- CD BG. DirecTV -- does rewarded by population and -- census numbers and so we've seen a decline on from federal -- BG dollars over the years. And so also but then we -- BG dollars and put them towards administration costs as opposed to. Rebuilding and other issues in the community to their community development block grants we have to appreciate that there's something -- that are not happening. In the community and the nonprofit world that we had anticipated would happen because we're having to utilize them in house for just basically running government. So it is an inch and. I just I'm not wanna beat the drum too loudly but. Talking to various neighborhood groups which were two weekly here. It's always about streets and lights and always telling me last year in that ten million dollars from wherever. To fix the lights. Why is there. And granite nobody thinks it's just change involves under the understanding that there's more -- sophisticated issues. Why can't they fix the dead zone on saint Charles along clay -- Did goal has another -- to my drive down these streets all the time it is appalling. I and don't hate the current that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. -- -- Believe that we will embark in the next few months on a chair of the public works committee and I. I think that. Head of that public works deputy mayor green -- he's in charge of public works and then colonel Jernigan who works for him. They do an amazing they've really really tyranny even the our resources that we have and we have been talking. Publicly and having smaller group meetings about embarking on a comprehensive citywide plan and to repair street lights just to get an idea of the numbers. We had -- 60000 street lights limitless and that it needed to be upgraded to LED lights and needed to be reworked because of damage just they're old and Katrina -- worst damage to -- expected. And and frankly they were managed prior to the store and buy into GQ. I don't think really liked doing that and that's not really their job and -- to provide electricity. And gas they don't fix street lights so we had a system in the past that didn't work they didn't do a lot of preventative maintenance. Be an interception that was -- -- -- -- -- -- had fifty plus to 60000 lights and had been changed to LED over the years. Years with. Pots of money we have over 30000 laughed right now. Street lights that we have to bring -- can make. Energy efficient through LED how we pay for that and how much as I can cost well. It's probably gonna cost in the 15100004050. Million dollar range and had a -- well. We can do -- do that Gwyneth. Savings that we monetized because L Indy Lights should say that's between forty and 60% -- like bill and we pay about five point five million dollars to Entergy. Each year for lights so that's number one savings. I'm number two we can potentially use and the refunds that come back. To the rate payers from Entergy and that's something of course that the council Budget Committee and sorry that utility committee has -- -- we've got to decide does that make sense we've got to find out. Can we for certainty that the preacher we can't because we we be doing we'd be using it for energy efficiency programs. And in -- have to come up with some other small amount of money to be able to fund this massive infrastructure project over the next round. Eighteen to 24 months and I don't know what that that finals or it's going to be that's going to be the difficult part to come up with that extra 500000 to a million dollars. To pay off the debt to do this major overhaul of the 30000. And Kristen has another I have annual issue because. I can retire and fifteen immoral and that -- and that night and we -- everything on the council that's that's the east bank so Algiers is anti Louisiana. And set them and that's why things I was fighting very hard with the budget this year just to ensure that we had enough money set aside for Algiers because it -- if this plan works. We have to ensure that all of our citizens Rahm receive the same benefit and so we didn't put 51000 must decide in this budget just for Algiers lights. So that's innocent non negotiable I'm hearing the -- enough. I'm told that be enough and no matter what you -- it entirely correct. If we had more flexible source Owens for Algiers that has -- ease the energy rebates. Then that we have to because we have to do. Yet adding we're learning doesn't just like any markup you need more like my -- and there and there's actually correlation between public safety and -- at that and we are we all recognize that and. And one of the things that were very big on at the council because I think rumors are very much like. The ones right up there on the street. Is that it's the simple things we focus -- we focus our lights for some streets and -- the big quality of life issues that people wanna hear. But we know that the city budget has been passed were talking with Kristin Palmer Stacy had Susan injury are councilwoman. And I'm really learning a lot. -- hole more than you want -- now now and I'm glad you noticed that sort of -- inside -- of what I'm not -- in -- you've been reading in the newspaper. Art let -- move forward now. We need more money we need to -- things back and one of the suggestions BJ are believed had suggested that we have too many courts and so that would be a method. I'm sorry no I wanted it before we go into this kid can I just make a statement about our general budget is an industry really get -- expressive with camera -- Is that we look at our total general fund budget 62%. Of our general fund budget. Goes to public safety. And then another 10% on top of that goes to pension obligations to -- off the bat before events are talking about street lights street caught it like this year. 70% of our budget. Is is pretty much taken -- So. So now I think that's a really good and okay let's talk about. Going in the end to public safety in in courts all that I think that's and knowledge that we all as a community need to now. That we recognized public safety that we also have to recognize. That that the public safety is multi armed and multi tiered yes it's not just you know -- that -- this City Council did in the general fund its its. You know it's the chords at the public defender is the -- attorney you know it's it's the clerks it's everybody sent himself an -- All of a sudden it has been suggested that worked courts have -- and this would be an area where we could pare back and perhaps save money. Another -- heading up that comment I'm sort of where our share of the criminal justice committee for this City Council. And so that certainly. Something that we're looking acts and it's just it. It's not something the City Council and the mayor get to determine allow him. And starting first volleys and BGR had recommended fewer judgeships actually -- war they had analyzed. Your report and by the judicial council which is research arm for this purpose of the Louisiana Supreme Court. The judicial council had looked at across the entire state it all the courts. And found that. You -- Moreland had in in many of the court's more judges and we need it. Now -- the judicial council didn't stated that way would it stayed it was. Judges needed and number that was needed -- not who wasn't needed and some people are making some distinction there. And I find to be -- without a difference. But it is to judicial council of Louisiana Supreme Court. The BGR. And -- also at PF and group which is a budget consultant group. That the city is used for I think more than 56 years now. Have all found that we are. To -- where quart heavy and judge happy and the judges would argue were overwhelmed with cases so how can only cut back. What do they sent. Let depends on the cork -- municipal court is a court that certainly needs the number of judges -- hats. It's I think the only court in in New Orleans that everyone agrees. Needs a number of catches it has may -- could use another. But every other court is different criminal court. Criminal district court has lost its statement to -- cases to municipal court -- where the DA decided he wanted to prosecute them. So criminal district court has significantly. Less cases fewer cases now. But they say look at our cases here in New Orleans to -- such. Big you know violent offenders of the cases are big and you need to score -- differently. That's true you know to some point. But they did lose I think about two thirds of the cases witnessed an arms. And again mr. -- go quickly but it it's something you've got to look at when the judicial council said they needed about half the judges that they have. Traffic court. Has four part time judges were paying over a 100000 dollars apiece they're part time. And judicial council said one catch. GP. Juvenile court has six judges. There are only 43 other parishes in the state that happened to -- courts separate. Juvenile court. So do you think just as you're looking at this that it's realistic. That we could cut back and save money again the goal is to look at all of government and measure saying this is an enormous percentage of our budget. That we have to do some hard to. Tough decisions. Absolutely and I really do wish that the courts would work with us on this because we're looking hat I mean it but the constitution protects. A judge's seat you can't just say we're Gannett kick this judge out of I hit I the server office. It has to be done in such a way that that that term is complete before you can do away with deceit. So you know if we could work together on this who could not just talk and the judges were -- All the cost of their staff. And you courts. Could merge and they don't merge them we're talking the cost of the -- of those corrupt courts that judicial administrators. And number of different courts that are you know duplicate it. If you merged those courts. Unfortunately which unfortunately were losing Stacey -- that she has a very important meeting I appreciate you being here. We still of course have Kristin Palmer and Susan disagree with this and Jackie Clarkson just called in -- fortunately she isn't going to be able to join us. But we have much to talk about celebs talk about something a little different with these sewage and water it was deemed that some people were not paying for the air. On sewage bill and uncertain trash built there for now the law is such where people water could become off. And a difficult thing but my question ones who was not -- Who was not paying and why was that a lot. I think there's there's a significant number we were very high and the percent effects that -- paying. -- that good to be clear what passed that the council was an ordinance that would allow. The administration and the mayor to enter into a CA with sewage and water board to define how that but he car. And says and obviously we need to ensure that there are two safety -- that's one thing to counsel. Elderly and -- and there's a water health programs that won't be barker at the TCA took me actions -- it does you know. It is a great job with the utilities currently. And so we really need to ensure that -- not punitive I mean I have. Great consternation about that for us with my man former -- with more compelling and elderly throughout the city. So -- -- -- -- monitor this very closely and something that we have to continue and be in position to reassess it as a councilman gray said. People who are able patient and patient absolutely -- I think that's the girl saying. We just want to ensure that when we do something it's not so draconian. That we don't have a system I even had some constituents on. -- -- -- -- -- -- disconnect fees and and reconnect v.s and how this you know how is compounded so I do think we just seem to look at it very closely to make sure that there. There -- many many people that that we're not -- On the sanitation -- retirement 24 dollars a month it's absolutely in line when we when we having passed that went from twelve point for an -- a few years ago. We did a lot of cross checking. Regionally to ensure that we were in line. Without efforts it still doesn't pay the actual cost units to lots about it and to some costs and an an interestingly that you're in -- and Sherman next. The report on quality of life that came out last week. One of the good things was that people like they're trash pick right they did the job -- being done the job mr. -- and you know and and that's one thing I can say for our vendors is that. He and we win we get complaints in our office there they're addressed immediately if if we get any meaning they've been very very efficient and get to work went. I I do think we need TU. Become more aggressive with our recycling and try to bring down costs and I think we're seeing now that it's -- and and let's be clear -- this counselor really pushed and got recycling. Back on the table to remember we didn't have it right after this front. And that's announcer aggressive line and we we were able idea through content negotiations with the vendors I think what are seen as a decrease costs in tipping fees. Because you know we are using more recycling a Allen left this -- further into greens pensive green at a recycling with. -- -- that's a wonderful thing only because where the clock is ticking I would like to know from you to. The city means more money and where do we get it without over taxing people who are always taxed. And I'm saying this because. I really believe that there are entities some nonprofit entities -- their educational and she's. That should be paying something I'm not saying it's attacks but he should be -- unit this is not an original thought this happens in other communities. But there's a lot of property out there that is not being text. And we are a poor community. We need more money. I know it's it's a ticklish subject but one that -- The address I don't think it's ticklish in some MSAs ticklish in my background as a nonprofit management as a director. And we have to create a budget and live by that budget just like anybody else and and quite frankly you need to make your program sustainable. And I think when we talk about. A semi properties offline everybody passed to give you know and to put in I mean we. We it's a sensitive marshals and police and fire that we have to pay for and there is something that we absolutely have to assess antibody equitably. Because we also don't wanna create a system if you if there's no pain and we also want to create a system where we're allowing. Unfit to hold on the properties for long periods of time that aren't being renovated and are off the tax roles such and so when you ask where were looking for -- -- I am very strong believer in game one more properties back online as quickly. As we can't. And I think we're we're -- we're not hitting that mark yet I was very aggressive in getting these. Nor to put the properties online for auction has been highly successful when you -- more options -- -- more time studying. On because that's where we're gonna build wealth and an equity amounts of our people. -- -- about. What about the again a difficult conversation. For educational institutions and nonprofit hospitals that could be paying something. No question in especially nonprofits who have. Property property that they are using for commercial purposes that they are actually profit warnings from. And out it's it's my understanding that the figure is really mind boggling. The taxes that we are not collecting. From these nonprofits who are using property for commercial use and I acting that you think you were were you referring to. Pilot I think it is payment in lieu of taxes. Which is at an -- of places in and nonprofits entry into an agreement with municipality. To make certain payments. In lieu of being taxes to their properties and am really believe that that is something that we should. Well again. I put it in terms of were all complaining about potholes -- complain about the lights you've given us some very important information about well -- at the wrong track here. But that shouldn't have taken so -- we should have enough money to have decent -- should have enough money to fight the pothole problem. Well yes but let's also. Get 30000 feet up and and I do wanted to be clear. Right now our general fund budget I think is is spot is 504 million dollars -- came on. Whereabouts -- different -- an increase in terms of revenue and that's come and a lot of that is also be telling us where we're coming up right now in San. The more -- Jefferson Parish has almost twice as much sales tax revenues. Men -- Orleans parish does. So we see these things coming online we see things like the river walk come -- that's going to be huge for us costs as we know the wonderful -- we -- tourists are shopping and I can -- there -- -- if I'm -- makes it easy conventioneers from New Orleans going out there are shops who worked. We're we're gonna see a lot as more more retail becomes online that's gonna increase the sales tax revenue it. When -- that we should have enough money in our budget Alice -- be -- them. And look at what's happened to the city Paris K so even in 1960 when the zenith of our population 623000. Correct. Then when Katrina hit we have 473000. 600. Now we're about 375380. I can -- 8000. We still the same footprint. We have less people but we still have the same amount of of lights and streets a moment to fix right and we are we are moving in that to make direction but I also -- putting context. On what we're doing is a Smart sustainable way of increasing our revenues increasing have been more people coming back to the city getting on our tax -- And then with the way we have been in this administration's been renegotiating with FEMA and reassessing all of our neighborhood streets there's almost going to be. 500 million dollars just hitting the streets in terms of amnesty that you can go anywhere in a city without street repairs. I'm forever grateful to Kristin Palmer and decision -- in -- hit for spending the hour with us and Jacqui we'll get to back another time. Thank you so much for your insight we're gonna have you back you know how to get here now. Thank you again okay now it's elegant Chris Miller in the newsroom.