2015 Capital Budget Requests

Update 6/20/14: The Schedule has been revised again. See below for the updated hearing schedule.

Update 6/20/14: The NORD Commission’s Capital Budget request is now available on CPC’s website, so the it is included below and the map will be updated to show the locations of those projects.

Various City Departments have requested Capital Funding from the City to build various projects around town. This map below shows the locations of these proposed projects. Click on the pin for more information about the projects. Below the map is the schedule of all the Capital Budget Hearings with a link to the Department’s request where you can find even more information about the Project.

 

 

 

From the City Planning Commission:

 

“All hearings will be held in Conference Room A of the One Stop Shop (OSS) in New Orleans City Hall, at 1300 Perdido Street, Room 7W03, New Orleans, Louisiana, on the following dates and times:
Date and Time                    Department/Agency

Monday, June 23
1:00pm-2:30pm                City Park Improvement Association

3:00pm-4:30pm           Chief Administrative Office, Equipment Maintenance Division

5:00pm-6:30pm              New Orleans Aviation Board

Wednesday, June 25
10:30am-12:00pm         Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness/Municipal Training Academy AND Emergency Medical Services (Department of Health)

1:00-2:30pm                     Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corporation

3:00-4:30pm                     New Orleans Public Library

Thursday, June 26

1:30pm-3:00pm              Orleans Parish Juvenile Court

Friday, June 27
11:00am-12:30pm            Department of Finance

2:00-3:30pm                     New Orleans Fire Department

3:30-5:00pm                     New Orleans Museum of Art

Monday, June 30
10:30am-12:00pm           Mayor’s Office

1:00pm-2:30pm               Audubon Commission

3:00pm-4:30pm              Department of Parks and Parkways

5:00pm-6:30pm              Reserved for continuation or rescheduling

Tuesday, July 1
11:30am-1:00pm             New Orleans Police Department

2:30-4:00pm                    Department of Property Management

5:00pm-6:30pm              Department of Public Works

Thursday, July 3
9:30am-11:00am             Department of Sanitation

12:30pm-2:00pm            Mosquito Control Board

2:30pm-4:00pm              Orleans Parish Criminal District Court

Monday, July 7
1:00pm-2:30pm            French Market Corporation/Upper Pontalba Building Restoration Corporation

5:00pm-6:30pm             New Orleans Recreation Development Commission

 

ALL INTERESTED PARTIES ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. PUBLIC QUESTIONS WILL BE ADDRESSED FOLLOWING THE STAFF DISCUSSION OF THE PROPOSALS.
June 20, June 25, and July 2, 2014
Robert Rivers, Executive Director

Revised Capital Projects Hearing Schedule

Update 6/20: The NORD Commission Capital Budget request is now available on CPC’s website.

Update 6/18: The Capital Budget requests for each department are now available on CPC’s website.

 

The City Planning has revised the Capital Projects public hearing schedule (see below). You can also see the full schedule on the Nola Report Calender. The Capital Projects hearings start June 23 and go until July 7. The Capital Budget requests have been submitted to the City Planning Commission, and they should be available soon on their Capital Improvement Plan page or their Calender and Agendas page. Here is the press release for the City Planning Commission:

City Planning Commission Public Hearing Notice
Capital Improvement Plan 2015-2019
(REVISED JUNE 16, 2014)

The City Planning Commission, in accordance with Sections 3-117, 5-402, and 6-104 of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans, will hold public hearings to consider Capital Budget requests by the departments and agencies of the City for the 2015-2019 program years. All hearings will be held in Conference Room A of the One Stop Shop (OSS) in New Orleans City Hall, at 1300 Perdido Street, Room 7W03, New Orleans, Louisiana, on the following dates and times:
Date and Time                    Department/Agency

Monday, June 23
10:30am-12:00pm            French Market Corporation/Upper Pontalba Building Restoration Corporation

1:00pm-2:30pm                City Park Improvement Association

3:00pm-4:30pm              Orleans Parish Juvenile Court

5:00pm-6:30pm              New Orleans Aviation Board

Wednesday, June 25
10:30am-12:00pm         Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness/Municipal Training Academy AND Emergency Medical Services (Department of Health)

1:00-2:30pm                     Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corporation

3:00-4:30pm                     New Orleans Public Library

Friday, June 27
11:00am-12:30pm            Department of Finance

2:00-3:30pm                     New Orleans Fire Department

3:30-5:00pm                     New Orleans Museum of Art

Monday, June 30
10:30am-12:00pm           Mayor’s Office

1:00pm-2:30pm               Audubon Commission

3:00pm-4:30pm              Department of Parks and Parkways

5:00pm-6:30pm              Reserved for continuation or rescheduling

Tuesday, July 1
11:30am-1:00pm             New Orleans Police Department

2:30-4:00pm                    Department of Property Management

5:00pm-6:30pm              Department of Public Works

Thursday, July 3
9:30am-11:00am             Department of Sanitation

12:30pm-2:00pm            Mosquito Control Board

2:30pm-4:00pm              Orleans Parish Criminal District Court

Monday, July 7
11:00am-12:30pm           Chief Administrative Office, Equipment Maintenance Division

5:00pm-6:30pm             New Orleans Recreation Development Commission

 

ALL INTERESTED PARTIES ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. PUBLIC QUESTIONS WILL BE ADDRESSED FOLLOWING THE STAFF DISCUSSION OF THE PROPOSALS.
June 20, June 25, and July 2, 2014
Robert Rivers, Executive Director

City Ends 2013 with $8.3 Million Budget Surplus

Update 4:15pm: The article has been revised to have the correct surplus amount of $8.3 million.

At this morning’s City Council Budget Committee meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin announced some good news about the City’s budget. According to the City’s Revenue Estimating Conference, the City raised $19 million more in revenue last year than budgeted. This increase was mostly due an almost 10% increase in sales tax revenue in 2013 from 2012. With the better than expected collections, the City ended 2013 with an $8.3 million budget surplus, the first of the Landrieu administration.

While these numbers are not audited, Kopplin says that he has spoken to the auditor and is confident in the figures. Kopplin said that the better than expected sale tax revenues in 2013, could have ripple effects for this year’s budget as this will likely result in an increase in revenue projections for 2014. Kopplin was not prepared to revise the 2014 revenue projection, and said that the Revenue Estimating Conference would consider that at its next meeting in August.

The $8.3 million fund balance gives the city a budget cushion for the first time in years, meaning the City has a “rainy day” fund heading into hurricane season. Budget Committee Chairperson Stacy Head questioned Andy Kopplin about sources of all the budget savings to determine if any of these funds could be spent on repairing potholes and streetlights. Kopplin said that the City is being cautious on spending, because any increase in costs for the consent decrees or in the firefighter’s pension fund means that the City would need to go back to making cuts.

There was some good news when it comes to streetlights. At tomorrow’s City Council meeting, City Council is expected to pass a budget ordinance that would allocate $14.6 million to convert streetlights to LED lights. Also at tomorrow’s meeting, Council would introduce another ordinance (it will not be adopted for another two weeks) that would allocate $1.7 million for streetlight repairs, which would cover all repairs that could not be fixed by LED conversions. Kopplin said that this money will be used to fix all of the broken streetlights along St Charles Avenue, in New Orleans East, and across the City. If City Council adopts this ordinance in two weeks, Public Works would start work as soon as July.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting the Budget Committee heard a proposal from Civil Service to offer bonuses to NOPD employees who successful recruit new police officers. NOPD employees would receive $500 when a new recruit starts the police academy and $500 when he or she starts the police force. Councilmember Head used this as an opportunity to criticize some of the requirements for new police recruits saying that potential officers are being turned away by Civil Service because they use marijuana decades ago. “A history of longterm dependency is very different than trial usage in college or high school” Head said. The Budget Committee did not take action on this proposal, because they are waiting on an ethics opinion from the Attorney General’s Office.

 

New Orleans Master Plan and the Force of Law Myth

Today, I was reading an article in The Advocate on the Louisiana Landmarks Society placing the New Orleans Master Plan on its 2014 New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered list. It was not supposed to be the case that the Master Plan would be such a weak document. In 2008, New Orleans voters approved a City Charter Change that would require the City to adopt a Master Plan with the “force of law.” When City Council adopted the Master Plan in 2010, everyone hailed it as a great accomplish that will end planning by surprise in New Orleans. So, has this happened? Is the Master Plan in danger or endangering historic properties? What does it mean that the Master Plan has the force of law, has it done anything to end planning by surprise?

The Force of Law is portion of the Charter Change that is supposed to give the Master Plan some weight. Many plans sit on the shelf collecting dust because they do not have funds to implement them and they have no legal authority. The Force of Law gives the Master Plan the legal authority that it needs and decisions around zoning changes are supposed to be consistent with the Master Plan. But is this really happening?

Yes and No. City Council makes the final decision when it comes to zoning changes. Are their decisions are not always consistent with the Master Plan. City Council members often make decisions for political reasons without much regard for what the Master Plan says. City Council members will certainly cite the Master Plan when it supports their decision, but they have ignored the Master Plan when it is not consistent with what they want to do.

Here is one example of City Council ignoring the Master Plan. On October 4, 2012, City Council voted to change the zoning of a property at 4321 Paris Avenue for Neighborhood Business (B-1) to Single-Family Residential (RS-2). Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, responding to constituent concerns that a problem corner store may reopen, sought to rezone this property from business to single-family resident. The problem was that the Master Plan designated this area for neighborhood commercial, so rezoning the violated (or at least was inconsistent with) the Master Plan.

If the Master Plan has the force of law, then how could this happen? It is because so far there has not been anyone to hold City Council accountable for their votes. Given the doctrine of balance of power and divided branches of government, it is up to the judicial branch to hold the legislative branch accountable. This has not happened yet, because no one has brought a case to the courts to challenge a City Council decision based on the Master Plan. If the property owner of 4321 Paris Avenue sued the City for the loss in land value due to rezoning his property from commercial to residential that was inconsistent with the Master Plan, I would think that he would have an open and shut case against the City.

I am not encouraging people to sue the City, because ultimately it would cost all of us New Orleans tax payers. Something needs to be done to hold the City Council accountable for its decisions that violate the Master Plan, or City Council will continue to disregard the Master Plan’s force of law. So a lawsuit against the City might be the only option. The Louisiana Landmarks Society’s call that the Master Plan is endangering history properties and neighborhoods, seems like a sound argument to me. As long as City Council sees the Master Plan as a recommendation and not a legal requirement, we will never end planning by surprise and have the protection we need for our historic neighborhoods in New Orleans.

City Seeks Residents for Police Community Advisory Board

CITY AND NOPD ANNOUNCE SECOND OPEN ENROLLMENT
FOR POLICE COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, the City of New Orleans, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), and the Police Community Advisory Board (PCAB) announces its second open enrollment for PCAB membership. Open enrollment officially began on Sunday, June 1, 2014 for PCAB Advisory Groups city-wide.

Police Community Advisory Board is the framework for a public participation plan with the NOPD to engage in a collaborative problem-solving process that supports both the community and the police desire to enhance public safety. PCABs have the responsibility to vet community ideas/suggestions, work with NOPD to understand operations processes and challenges and build consensus on priority items important to the community before submitting recommendations to NOPD for consideration. PCABs also have the responsibility of assisting NOPD in recruitment efforts.

The PCAB Advisory Group is a district-based participation structure that creates one advisory group per NOPD District (8 total). PCAB members serve a 24 month term. The advisory group does not have any decision making authority, but will meet quarterly to achieve the following goals:

  • Maintain a consistent partnership between the community and law enforcement;
  • Serve to help reduce crime and enhance the quality of life for all citizens;
  • Establish goals that can be accomplished through positive and open communications;
  • Assist law enforcement in helping to maintain police standard for accountability;
  • Create processes to help address issues of bias-based policing;
  • Improve interaction between police and citizens through education and training; and
  • Strengthen and ensure the application of equal protection under the law for all citizens.

Membership is open to all residents in the city of New Orleans who are eighteen years or older who may be interested in serving as a volunteer leader in their respective police district.  Applications for selection can be found online at www.nola.gov/neo/pcab or may be picked up at any NOPD Station. Completed applications may be submitted online or emailed to nawinbush@nola.gov or returned to any NOPD station by June 30, 2014.

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Source: Mayor’s Office Press Release

City Planning Commission Announces Capital Budget Hearing Schedule

Yesterday afternoon, the City Planning Commission released the Public Hearing Schedule for the City’s 2015-2019 Capital Improvement Plan, which will be the basis for next year’s Capital Budget. The hearings will take place by Department between June 23 and July 7. The capital budget requests are not due to City Planning Commission until June 13, and should be publicly available on CPC’s website shortly after that. Here is the Public Hearing Notice from CPC:

City Planning Commission Public Hearing Notice

Capital Improvement Plan 2015-2019

The City Planning Commission, in accordance with Sections 3-117, 5-402, and 6-104 of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans, will hold public hearings to consider Capital Budget requests by the departments and agencies of the City for the 2015-2019 program years. All hearings will be held in Conference Room A of the One Stop Shop (OSS) in New Orleans City Hall, at 1300 Perdido Street, Room 7W03, New Orleans, Louisiana, on the following dates and times:

 

Date and Time Department/Agency
 

Monday, June 23

10:30am-12:00pm French Market Corporation/Upper Pontalba Building Restoration Corporation
1:00pm-2:30pm City Park Improvement Association
5:00pm-6:30pm New Orleans Aviation Board
 

Wednesday, June 25

10:30am-12:00pm Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness/Municipal Training Academy & Emergency Medical Services (Dept of Health)
1:00-2:30pm Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corporation
3:00-4:30pm New Orleans Public Library
 

Friday, June 27

11:00am-12:30pm Office of Information Technology and Innovation
2:00-3:30pm New Orleans Fire Department
3:30-5:00pm New Orleans Museum of Art
 

Monday, June 30

10:30am-12:00pm Reserved for continuation or rescheduling
1:00pm-2:30pm Audubon Commission
3:00pm-4:30pm Department of Parks and Parkways
5:00pm-6:30pm Reserved for continuation or rescheduling
 

Tuesday, July 1

11:30am-1:00pm New Orleans Police Department
2:30-4:00pm Department of Property Management
5:00pm-6:30pm Department of Public Works
 

Thursday, July 3

9:30am-11:00am Department of Sanitation
12:30pm-2:00pm Mosquito Control Board
2:30pm-4:00pm Reserved for continuation or rescheduling
 

Monday, July 7

11:00am-12:30pm CAO/Equipment Maintenance Division
5:00pm-6:30pm New Orleans Recreation Development Commission

 

ALL INTERESTED PARTIES ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. PUBLIC QUESTIONS WILL BE ADDRESSED FOLLOWING THE STAFF DISCUSSION OF THE PROPOSALS.

June 4, June 11, and June 18, 2014

Robert Rivers, Executive Director

The Politics of and Politicians on the City’s Boards and Commissions

At Today’s City Council Meeting (May 22, 2014), there will be a number of appointments to various City boards and commissions. The Mayor’s Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) appointments are attracting the most attention, but these are not the only high profile appointments on City Council’s agenda. In Motion No. M-14-204, City Council will appoint its own members to various Boards and Commissions around town.

The high-profile reforms at the S&WB were all about “taking politics out of the appointments.” While I do appreciate that new Sewerage and Water Board members now need to meet certain professional requirements, I think it is naive to say that politics have been removed. Many of the board and commission members across the City were selected because they are long-time political supporters of the Mayor or Councilmember who appoints them. Even if they are not a long-time political supporter, they are often pressured by political lobbying to take a certain position on an issue. If this was not happening, how else can you explain that the Mayor’s Office scripted NORD Commission meetings; top-Mayoral aides Jeff Hebert and Cedric Grant were selected to lead NORA and the S&WB?

So what does it mean that all of these Councilmembers being appointed to the Boards of these different organizations? Politicians are certainly going to act in their political best interest, so there is no real perception that their role is non-political like there is with some other board members. At the same time, this is another source of power for the City Councilmembers. Some of these Boards have tremendous power, like the Board of Liquidation, City Debt which is responsible for issuing bonds on behalf of the City.

City Councilmembers are appointed to 18 different boards and commission, some based on their position as the At-Large Councilmember or the Councilmember that represents the district where the board is located. Others appear to be appointed to the position based on either seniority or because they are the chair of the committee that has expertise in the area (Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee Susan Guidry will be appointed to the Criminal Justice Council as an example).

The distribution of these appointments is far from being equal. The At-Large members have the most appointments as Jason Williams has 9 and Stacy Head has 8. The Councilmembers for Districts A, B, and C are in the middle with 5 appointments for Susan Guidry, and 4 appointments each for LaToya Cantrell and Nadine Ramsey. Trailing in the appointments is Councilmembers Brossett and Gray who only have one appointment each. In the Motion there is a breakdown by board and commission, but here is the breakdown of by City Councilmember:

Stacy Head, At-Large Criminal Justice CouncilNew Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (2014 and 2016)

Revenue Estimating Conference

Canal Street Development Corporation

Board of Liquidation, City Debt

Board of City Trust (while serving as Council President)

Regional Planning Commission

New Orleans Building Corporation

Jason Williams, At-Large Criminal Justice CouncilNew Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (2015 and 2016)

City Park Improvement Association

Louisiana Police Jury Association

NOLA Business Alliance

Board of Liquidation, City Debt

Board of City Trust (while serving as Council President)

Regional Planning Commission

New Orleans Building Corporation

Susan Guidry, District A Board of the New Orleans Museum of ArtMunicipal Yacht Harbor Corporation

Criminal Justice Council

New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board

City Park Improvement Association

LaToya Cantrell, District B New Orleans Tourism Marketing CorporationBoard of Directors of the New Orleans Building Corporation

Canal Street Development Corporation

Greater New Orleans Tourist and Convention Commission

Nadine Ramsey, District C New Orleans Tourism Marketing CorporationCanal Street Development Corporation

Greater New Orleans Tourist and Convention Commission

Algiers Development District

Jared Brossett, District D Municipal Yacht Harbor Corporation
James Gray, District E New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board

So what, if any, lessons are there to learn here? Certainly, not all City Council positions are created equal, at least when it comes to board and commission appointments. Also, I think that we need that boards and commissions will always be political as long as we continue to have politicians serve or appoint the people who serve on these boards and commissions. If we really do want people who are non-political and chosen for their professional expertise, then why not have local chapters of professional organizations appoint people to these boards and commissions? I would trust the local chapter of the Bar Association to pick the best lawyer and the American Institute of Architects to select a top architect more than I would any politician to do the same. Taking politicians out of the appointment process is the only way to take politics out of these boards and commissions.

The New Orleans Capital Budget: The $1 billion tree that fell in the forest, where nobody was around to hear

Every year the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) oversees the City’s process to develop a 5-year spending plan for the City’s Capital projects. And every year, CPC host about 20 public meeting to get input on the various budget requests, with little to no involvement from the public. I attended a handful of these meetings last year, and there were only three or four non-City employees at all of these meetings, and those people were from local government watchdog organizations like BGR, CBNO, and NOCOG. So why is the Capital Budget important, and if it is important, then why are so few people engaged in the process?

The Capital Budget is important because it is the City’s plan for every major project the City will build over the next 5 years. The 2014-2018 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that the City adopted last year totaled over $1 billion (that is billion with a ‘b’) and included funding for a new airport terminal, a civic center at Charity Hospital, and money for every major road repair, park, police station, fire station, library, community center, and every other project that the City will build over the next 5 years. With the CIP’s $1 billion price tag and with projects in every part of the City, you would think that more individuals and neighborhoods would engage in this process.

The reason why more people do not engage in the CIP process, because most people do not know what the CIP is and they certainly do not know that the City is deciding the fate of these projects in their neighborhood. Some projects, like repairing City Hall elevators, will not be of interest to most people (unless you spent 40 minutes trapped in an elevator with Jackie Clarkson). Other projects are of vital importance to neighborhoods, like new equipment and improvements to your neighborhood playground, building a new fire station in your neighborhood, and major repairs to roads in your community. Neighborhoods care about these projects and would show up and provide input if they knew that these decisions were being made.

The problem is in how the City advertises and collects input on the CIP. CPC gets capital project requests and holds public hearings by the department. CPC emails a list out of different hearing dates of each department and does not give out information about the different projects that they are requesting funding for. So you may know that NORDC is holding a meeting on June 25, but you have no idea that NORDC is considering funding the park in your neighborhood. As a neighborhood, you would have to review every department’s requests to see if there are any proposals in your community. That is too much effort to expect from any neighborhood, especially considering that they do not understand this whole process.

At its last Operational Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 13, CPC announced that they were going to kick off the next round on Department Budget Hearings the week of June 23. CPC Chair Kelly Brown said that CPC has been criticized in the past for not having enough public involvement in the CIP, and that they need to do a better job this round. CPC staffer Geoff Moen said that he has been in contact with the Neighborhood Engagement (NEO) to help get the word out. I think that this is a good first step, but it is not enough.

CPC and NEO spent last summer and fall compiling a list of neighborhood association boundaries and contact information. It would not be difficult to map all of the Capital Budget request locations and contact the impacted neighborhood associations to let them know that CPC is considering a Capital Budget request in their neighborhood and let them know the request, the amount, the hearing date, and how to provide their input. In addition, CPC adopted its Neighborhood Participation Program (NPP) in summer of 2012, which call for more community engagement in all of CPC decision making processes including the CIP. The NPP specifically calls for NEO to do the following:

  • Prior to the Department’s submission of project proposals to the CPC, the City should engage the community to gather input on its priorities.
  • Issue a press release explaining the CIP process and announcing the opportunities for community engagement.
  • Create an online community engagement platform to record the community’s priorities for capital projects.

I do not think that CPC or NEO is doing any of these things (expect for maybe the second one), which are critical for getting more people involved in the decision making process. By being more proactive in engaging neighborhoods and residents in projects that they are interested in (those in their neighborhood), CPC can greater public participation in its CIP process. Currently, CPC is still getting more budget requests from the various City Departments, but they will soon announce the public hearing schedule for each department. I will be sure to announce it when the schedule becomes public, but you should be able to find more information on CPC’s website at its Calendars and Agendas and Capital Improvement Plan pages.