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.

 

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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