City Passes Balanced 2015 Budget

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans City Council unanimously approved the passage of the City’s 2015 Capital and General Fund budgets Thursday, totaling $265 million and $536.9 million respectively.

         “I’m pleased that together with the City Council, we have put together a balanced budget that funds our citizen’s top priorities and a capital budget that funds $95 million in street repairs and construction of a new terminal facility at Louis Armstrong Airport,” Mayor Landrieu said. “This balanced budget will fund 150 new police officers, pay for the first police pay raise in eight years and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for City employees. One of the reasons this process goes so smoothly is that we host community meetings with the Councilmembers to hear directly from the people of New Orleans about their priorities, incorporate the Council’s input from the start, and take part in the Council’s robust public hearings on every department’s budget.”

         Council President Stacy Head said, “I am pleased that the Council passed the 2015 budget after months of hard work. While the reality is that we are not able to fully fund all needed budgets, we were able to make the greatest investments in areas that improve the quality of life of New Orleans residents. Because of limited dollars and exorbitant costs from two federal consent decrees and a ballooning firefighter pension system costs, there are areas of city services that did not receive adequate funding. I am, however, optimistic that as 2015 progresses and as the city grows, we will be able to restructure our budget and increase revenues to better fund those items that were not funded at the proper level.”

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         Councilmember at Large Jason Rogers Williams said, “Though not perfect I am very proud of our newly adopted budget for 2015. From a budgetary perspective we have achieved many of our goals. Increased salaries for fireman, more resources for fixing our streets, a brand new senior center, and the new Conviction Integrity Unit within the District Attorney's office. Of course I wish there were more funds to support various aspects of our incredible city, but I am encouraged by the process and how this budget was negotiated and adopted.”

         District A Councilmember Susan G. Guidry said, “The budget reflects our commitment to investing our limited general fund dollars where they can have the greatest possible positive impact on quality of life and public safety for our citizens. As Chair of the Council's Criminal Justice Committee, I am pleased to support ongoing NOPD recruitment and retention efforts through a 5% police pay raise. Additionally, I am proud to announce funding for major District A priorities, including the Lafitte Greenway, the Carrollton Hollygrove Senior Center, and a new alley grader, as well as increased funding for street maintenance and streetlights citywide. I would like to thank the citizens who submitted public comment, my colleagues, and the Administration for their efforts toward a respectful, efficient budget process, and I look forward to working together throughout 2015 as we identify and address remaining unmet needs and continue moving our city forward.”

         District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, “This budget has been a great experience. I view 2015 as the year of enforcement. I congratulate my colleagues, representatives from the administration, and Council President Head for a collaborative and respectful budget process. Our common objective with this budget is to deliver more for the citizens of New Orleans… more accountability, more sustainability and more compassion.”

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         District C Councilmember Nadine M. Ramsey said, “Throughout the year, we continually heard from citizens concerned about adequate funding for the criminal justice system and street and light repairs. The passage of 2015 budget was a step forward in addressing these issues. While we were unable to fund all the programs warranting support, we will continue to search for ways to improve City services and the safety of all.”

         District D Councilmember Jared C. Brossett said, “We passed a budget that included a police pay raise and increased funding for street repairs and streetlights. We were limited by the steep costs of sheriff and NOPD consent decrees and firefighter pension liability. But we were still able to pass a budget that funds services and programs that address the quality of life issues that matter to the people of District D and New Orleans as a whole need and want.”

         District E Councilmember James A. Gray II said, “No budget is ever perfect, not everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. But the City Council came together and worked to ensure that funding would be preserved for libraries, parks and playgrounds, lights, the blight flight, streets and public safety. We will continue to work every day to improve the quality of life and expand the opportunities for all of our citizens.”

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         In 2015, the NOPD’s $129.6 million budget will fund 5 recruit classes to put 150 new police officers on the streets. The capital budget funds another 100 new police cars bringing the total to 400 new cars purchased in the last three years.

         The 2015 budget funds the first police pay raise in eight years with a 5 percent across the board increase for officers. It also includes $12.3 million for the NOPD consent decree, an increase of $1.6 million from last year’s general fund budget. The NOPD will continue to purchase body cameras which eliminate “he said, she said” disputes and help restore public trust in the NOPD with more transparency and accountability.

         Public safety is the priority in this budget with NOPD, NOFD, EMS, and Coroner’s Office all seeing increases over their 2014 budgets.

         To comply with a court order and fully fund actuarial requests, $10.1 million has been committed to fund the NOFD pension fund. Funding also is available to pay for two NOFD recruit classes.

         Recreation is a top citizen priority. In 2011, the City doubled NORDC’s budget. This year, the City prioritized NORDC again, adding nearly another $1.6 million on top of their 2014 budget to fund NORDC programming at five new recreation centers, Gernon Brown, Stallings St. Claude, Sanchez, Annunciation and Rosenwald, two swimming pools, Stallings St. Claude and Sanchez, and three active playgrounds, Oliver Bush, Rosenwald, and Village de L’Est, that will be coming online in 2015.

         Eradicating blight remains a top priority. New Orleans is fixing up or tearing down blight faster than anywhere else in the country. The 2014 budget invests nearly $900,000 additional dollars to speed judgments, demolitions, and Sheriff’s sales.

         The 2015 budget also funds the Sheriff’s office $35.7M million, including $28.6 million in general fund dollars routed directly to OPSO and $7.1 million in “on behalf” payments for hospitalization, workers’ compensation, utilities, fuel, and unemployment payments. The Sheriff’s budget was increased by $4.4 million.

         The 2015 budget also funds important City services. In 2015, $11.2 million has been committed to streetlight repairs and energy-efficient upgrades. The Sanitation Department will receive an additional $1.3 million for enhanced services to keep New Orleans clean. Also, the Sanitation Department will receive an additional $220 thousand and the Department of Public Works will receive an additional $200 thousand for enhanced highway cleaning.

         The 2015 budget will also provide $200 thousand general fund dollars to the New Orleans Public Library.

         The City will also purchase 340 pieces of equipment including dump trucks, street sweepers, street flushers, and garbage trucks.


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