September 17, 2009
City Council Chamber
Addressed Redevelopment of Lake Forest Plaza in New Orleans EastThe Council deferred action on Ordinance Calendar No. 27,631, co-authored by Councilmember Willard-Lewis and Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, regarding the redevelopment of Lake Forest Plaza.
Cesar Burgos, Co-Owner of the Lake Forest Plaza property and Regional Transit Authority Chairman appeared before the Council to thank Councilmembers for their dedication to the rebuilding of the City and asked them to review the project in a timely fashion so that the redevelopment can move forward.
The Ordinance, if passed, would authorize the execution of a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the Lake Forest Plaza District and the City of New Orleans, and would authorize the Lake Forest Plaza District to receive undedicated City Sales and Use Tax of two percent, generated within the District and designating those funds to reimburse economic development costs.
District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis said, "The redevelopment of this site is not negotiable - it is a requirement for the City's recovery. We want to take this extra time to thoroughly review the financial structure of this redevelopment and ensure that a deal is constructed that will both benefit the citizens of New Orleans and fulfill the specific vision of the New Orleans East community."
Addressed Drainage Issues Affecting Monticello CanalThe Council received a report on the drainage issues affecting the Monticello Canal, located in District "A", and nearby areas in Orleans Parish.
Sarah Stack of the UNO Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART), Norma Jean Mattei, Chair of the UNO Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept., and Joseph Sherman, a Hollygrove resident, gave a PowerPoint presentation on the drainage issues and necessary improvements to the canal.
The UNO representatives cited two undersized culverts, one located under Airline Highway, that cause blockages in the canal and cause flooding.
The Council passed Resolution R-09-470, authored by Councilmember Midura, calling upon the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board to work with Jefferson Parish and the State of Louisiana to replace the undersized culvert under Airline Highway in the Monticello Canal with appropriately sized bridges that will not cause constrictions in the canal.
The Resolution also notes the importance of identifying the cost of the replacement and determining appropriate proportions of funding responsibility among New Orleans, Jefferson Parish and the State of Louisiana.
John Young, Jefferson Parish Councilman-at-Large, Division A appeared before the Council to offer his support of the expansion of the culverts.
District "A" Councilmember Shelley Midura said, "It is vital that these culverts be widened to prevent flooding of the Monticello Canal. In order to make this happen, it will require effective coordination between the Sewerage and Water Board, Jefferson Parish, the City of New Orleans, the state and the Federal government - we are prepared to do whatever we can to make sure this happens."
Introduced Dog Breeding Controls OrdinanceThe Council introduced Ordinance Calendar No. 27,687, authored by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, to establish a mandatory spay and neuter program for dogs, a breeding permit for dogs, and fees and requirements for such permit and penalties for violations.
Specifically, the ordinance would require that owners spay or neuter all dogs over 6 months old, and that owners may obtain a breeders permit if the owner does not intend to spay/neuter their dog.
District "D" Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, "The cost of animal control services for the City is tremendous. Every time the SPCA gets called out to deal with an animal, it costs money. At present the euthanasia rate exceeds 50%, which is unacceptable. In light of the City's projected budget deficit, the citizens of New Orleans can no longer pay for individual pet owner's decisions, nor can we appropriate additional funds to the LA/SPCA.
"This permit requirement for dogs that aren't spayed or neutered will encourage pet owners to be responsible, while helping to fund animal control operations. The ordinance gives pet owners the option to keep their animals intact, but if they choose to do so, it requires them to pay a fee for the extra burden placed on our City by the overpopulation of animals."
Appointed Interim Chief of Staff and Retained Firm for Utilities Regulatory Officer Recruitment ServicesThe Council passed Motions M-09-498, retaining Scope Services, Inc. to perform recruitment services to fill the vacant position of Council Utilities Regulatory Officer and M-09-496, appointing Chief Deputy City Attorney Evelyn F. Pugh as Interim Chief of Staff of the City Council, due to the impending retirement of City Council Chief of Staff Ronald J. Pursell.
The Council passed these Motions after holding an Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the professional competence of applicants for both the recruitment services and Interim Chief of Staff position.
Supported Amendments to Federal Medicaid RulesThe Council passed Resolution R-09-490, introduced by Councilmember Fielkow, urging the United States Congress to consider amending Federal Medicaid rules to account for the aberration in personal income statistics that is directly linked to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The amount of money the State is expected to match for the Federal Medicaid program is based upon per-capita income statistics. Under current Federal Medicaid rules, insurance settlements and Road Home grants are considered personal income, therefore inflating the state's per-capita income statistics.
Council President Arnie Fielkow said, "This is a critical issue at both the local and regional level. As a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the large amount of funds that have come into our state and the Gulf Coast region to provide for recovery, it appears that our income level is higher, meaning that our Medicaid cost share owed to the government would be higher. This is not an accurate reflection of the state's income level, as many of these funds are one-time reimbursement payments for the costs of rebuilding."
Supported City-Initiated TIF Districts
The Council passed Resolution R-09-429, which resolves that the Council will endeavor to support City-Initiated TIF Districts and will take all necessary steps to approve Tax Increment Financing in geographically defined Tax Increment Districts (TID) that are dormant, blighted, and in which revitalization would not occur but for the use of TIF.
Resolution R-09-429 reflects the Council's belief that Tax Increment Financing will further strengthen the citizens' confidence in the City's recovery by enhancing economic development.
The Resolution also acknowledges Mayor Nagin's Executive Order 09-02 which establishes the policies and procedures for the establishment, administration, and monitoring of City-Initiated Tax Increment Districts that utilize TIF in Orleans Parish.
Increased the Rates for Airport Shuttle FareThe Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,623, introduced by Councilmember Willard-Lewis, increasing rates for Airport shuttle fare from $13.00 to $20.00, including federal tax and airport tolls.
The Ordinance also changes the designation of vehicles from "Airport limousine" to "Airport shuttle", providing for a more accurate description of the vehicles.
District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis said, "It has been at least 7 years since there was a rate increase for the airport shuttle fair. This new rate will place our drivers at a nationally competitive level. We have an industry leader who has made significant investments in green technology, acquiring 18 new propane hybrid vehicles as well as promoting best practices in employee hospitality training."
Addressed Status of Repairs at Cut-Off Community CenterCynthia Sylvain-Lear, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Pamela Sims-Smith, Property Management Director and Bill Chrisman, Capital Projects Director, appeared before the Council to present a status update on repairs to the air conditioning and lighting at Cut-Off Community Center.
Sims-Smith informed Councilmembers that the air conditioning repairs at the Center would be completed today and that she has staff on-site to facilitate these repairs.
Mr. Chrisman provided an update on the lighting repairs, notifying Councilmembers that the contract for the repairs has been signed by the Mayor and work will begin next week. Sylvain-Lear committed to give Councilmembers a precise timeline for the completion of the repairs
District "C" Councilmember James Carter said, "These repairs need to be done immediately - the community has been patiently waiting for the necessary improvements at their community center. Status reports and accurate timelines on projects of this nature are vital to ensuring that progress is made in a timely fashion and we look forward to hearing of the completion of all repairs at Cut-Off Community Center."
Honored Herbert SimpsonAt the request of Councilmember-at-Large Clarkson, Herbert Simpson appeared before the Council today to be honored as the last surviving member of the Negro Baseball League. Mr. Simpson, an Algiers resident, was accompanied by two of his nieces and an active Algiers community member.
Mr. Simpson spoke to the Council about his experiences playing baseball in the league, and the importance of hard work in the face of diversity and dedication to reaching your goals.
Council Vice President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "We are in awe of Mr. Simpson and his dedication and love of baseball. He is a role model for the youth of our city and a true example of the accomplishment that comes with hard work. We are very lucky to have him as a member of the New Orleans community."
Supported Senior Citizen Center in District "C"The Council approved Zoning Docket No. 80/09 to permit the renovation of an existing building at 2201 Barracks St. into the Harmony House Senior Citizen Center.
The Council received public comment from Harmony House senior citizens, as well as community members, whose main concern centered on the necessity for adequate parking at the senior center.
District "C" Councilmember James Carter said, "Our seniors are an invaluable asset to our City. We will be judged by how we treat both the youth and the elderly in our City and we are grateful to the Harmony House senior center for providing our seniors with a loving and caring community of people to call their own.