At a special meeting on Tuesday, October 15, the Mayor submitted his proposed budget to City Council, who will adopt the final budget at their November 21 meeting. Between now and then, City Council will hold public hearings with all of the City departments and agencies that receive funding. You can view the department hearing schedule here, but keep an eye on the City Council Calendar because the departments’ hearing dates frequently change.
The Mayor’s Budget is actually two budgets, one for the City’s operating expenses (personnel, contacts, and supplies) and the other for capital projects (city buildings & infrastructure). The City’s proposed Operating Budget is $838 million, which includes $504 million from the general fund, which is discretionary money that the City can chose to spend how it wants (the rest of the money is from grants that must be used for an explicit purpose). The 2014 general fund budget is $9 million more than it was last year.
The other budget is the City’s Capital Budget. The City Planning Commission just approved the City’s 5-year and over $1 billion Capital Improvement Plan for 2014-2018, and the City Council will need to approved the Capital Budget for 2014. The 2014 Capital Budget is $247 million, and it includes funding for proposed projects like $153 million for road projects, $47 million for the airport, $20.3 million for a civic center at Charity Hospital (this is less than 10% of the total cost), $9.5 million for parks and recreation, and more for numerous other projects.
There has been some press coverage of the Mayor’s announcement, which get into more depth about the certain aspects of the budget like funding for (or lack of) the NOPD and OPP consent decrees, the fire fighters pensions, public safety funding, etc. Here are two items from The Lens, their live blog of the Mayor’s budget presentation and press conference and an article on lack of funding for the OPP consent decree. Here are summaries of the Mayor’s proposed 2014 budget from The Advocate and nola.com | TP.
Remember that the Mayor proposes the budget and the City Council adopts it, so their is an opportunity to give your input to City Council prior to November 21. At each of the department hearing, there is an opportunity to have your 2 minutes at the mic to speak about that department’s budget. City Council rarely make drastic changes to the budget, however, so they most adopt the budget that the Mayor proposes with maybe a million or two in changes. So it is unclear what impact your input would have on the budget.
We are working to bring a budgetary process to New Orleans, where people actually have a say in how part of the City’s budget is spent. Residents brainstorm project ideas, turn those ideas into proposal, vote on the proposal they want to fund, and the top projects are implemented. This process is call Participatory Budgeting (PB), and you can learn more about it by watching this short video. If you are want more information on how we can bring this to New Orleans, then check out the PB NOLA facebook page.
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