November 17, 2011
City Council Chamber
City Council November 17, 2011 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - November 17, 2011 - Today, by Special Order of Business, the City Council observed Military Appreciation Day in the Council Chamber.
The Council also took action modifying city employee pension costs and requesting that the City Planning Commission hold public hearings to consider zoning map changes and conduct vigilant planning and design reviews on properties in Central City and within the boundaries of the proposed Lafitte Greenway project. By resolution, the Council demonstrated full support for the U.S. Postal Processing Facility located on Loyola Avenue. Greater New Orleans, Inc. was recognized by Council proclamation for its achievement as one of the top twenty economic development organizations in the United States.
In other business, the Council amended its rules designating a new Council Standing Committee of Health, Education and Social Services and set its 2012 Regular Meeting and Holiday schedule.
Supported U.S. Postal Facility Loyola Avenue Location to Remain Open The Council passed Resolution R-11-552, co-authored by Councilmembers Johnson, Clarkson, Granderson, Guidry, Head, Gisleson Palmer and Hedge-Morrell, requesting that the United States Postal Facility on Loyola Avenue remain open and in full operation. The Loyola Avenue Processing Facility of the United States Postal Service currently has 880 employees and serves a geographic region that includes the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist and a portion of St. James. Should the location be closed, the services provided by the facility will impact nearly 2 million people who live within a 50 mile radius of the facility.
Council Vice-President Granderson said, "The U.S. Post Office at its location on Loyola Avenue has been a touchstone in the City of New Orleans for decades. This facility has represented hundreds of quality jobs and service to generations of New Orleanians. The Council asks that this facility remain at its location and continue full operation."
Called for Planning and Zoning Regulation Review Within the Proposed Lafitte GreenwayThe Council passed Motion M-11-551, co-authored by Councilmembers Guidry, Gisleson Palmer and Head, that directs the City Planning Commission conduct a public hearing to consider a zoning map change impacting property within the area of the proposed Lafitte Greenway Project bounded by Basin Street, Lafitte Avenue, N. Jefferson Davis Parkway, St. Louis Street including the St. Louis Street right-of-way between N. Jefferson Davis Parkway and Canal Boulevard. The proposed greenway project will traverse City Council Districts A, B and C. The Lafitte Greenway will include a pedestrian and bicycle trail, a greenway park and a variety of public amenities and other land uses. The greenway is designated on the Future Land Use Map in the City's Master Plan as Parkland and Open Space.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "The Lafitte Greenway is an important project that spans three City Council Districts and will impact the quality of life of every citizen of the City of New Orleans. This is a proactive measure by the Council that ensures that the land comprising the Lafitte Greenway is zoned and developed in a manner that is consistent with the vision and goals of this very exciting urban greenway park project."
Adopted 2012 Regular Meeting and Holiday Schedule
The Council passed Motions M-11-543 and M-11-541, co-authored by Council President Clarkson and Council Vice President Granderson, to establish the Council's 2012 Regular Meeting and Holiday Schedule. According to the regular meeting schedule adopted, the Council will meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month with the exception of the month of November. The Council will meet in regular session on Thursday Nov.1st and November 15th and on Friday November 30th. The holiday schedule observance includes, New Year's Day: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Mardi Gras; Good Friday; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Thanksgiving Day; Veterans Day; and Christmas.
Acknowledged Contributions of the United States MilitaryAt the request of Council President Clarkson, representatives of the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee (MMAC) appeared before the Council for the annual Military Appreciation Day activities. Major General David Mize (Ret.), Chairman of the MMAC, led the presentation, which included the Committee's annual report, performances by the United States Marine Corps Band and updates from military leaders of local armed forces organizations. Leaders from military organizations, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and the Louisiana Air and Army National Guard, Active and Reserve, updated the Council on the projects, programs and ongoing activities of their respective organizations, including involvement in community events and disaster relief services. The Council and Mayor Mitch Landrieu addressed the armed forces representatives, commending and thanking them for their service and dedication to New Orleans and the United States of America.
Council President Clarkson said, "There are no words to express our profound gratitude to the military for sacrifice and service to the United States of America. Thank you for your individual service as a patriot and an engaged citizen and collectively as a member of a branch of the military which has for decades been an enormous contributor to the economy of New Orleans and the region. Our City is a better place to live because so many military soldiers and civilians have called New Orleans home - whether temporarily or permanently - for generations!"
Enacted Changes to City Employee Retirement PlanThe Council adopted Ordinances Calendar No. 28,728 and 28,729, authored by Councilmember Head, to adjust the City employee retirement system fund contributions and the method used to calculate a retiree's monthly benefits package. The first measure increases the employee contribution rate from the current four percent to five percent in 2012 and six percent in 2013. The second measure modifies the calculation method which is currently based on an average of an employee's highest salary over 36 consecutive months of employment. The calculation modification will be phased-in beginning in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, monthly City employee retirement payments will be based on the average highest salary over 48 consecutive months. In 2015, monthly City employee retirement payments will be based on the average highest salary over 60 consecutive months. The action by the Council is an effort to manage high pension costs facing City Government. The trustees of the New Orleans Employee Retirement System fund recently voted in support of the legislation passed today by the Council.
District "B" Councilmember Head said, "The goal of this legislation is to continue to be vigilant and respectful of the public's money. Government funding of public employee retirement systems presents serious challenges for public bodies across this country. Today's action is designed to get ahead of anticipated public pension funding issues that the City may face in the future."
Requested Review Governing Design Standards in Central City
The Council passed Motion M-11-544, authored by Councilmember Head, that directs the City Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing to consider the establishment of the Central City Multi-Family Minimum Design Standards Interim Zoning District. The zoning district would prohibit the issuance of permits for multi-family uses prior to design review and approval of the City Planning Commission Staff, with the advice of the Historic District Landmarks Commission and subject to appeal to the City Council. This motion also asks that all new construction and redevelopment and / or rehabilitation projects of existing structures within the interim zoning district be subject to design review and must comply with new design standards.
District "B" Councilmember Head said, "Central City is undergoing an extraordinary revitalization. This legislation makes certain that Central City will continue a well planned, healthy and vibrant renaissance."
Designated New Council Standing Committee
The Council passed Resolution R-11-519, co-authored by Councilmembers Johnson, Clarkson, Granderson, Guidry, Head, Gisleson Palmer and Hedge-Morrell, amending the Council rules to include the Health, Education and Social Services Committee as a Standing City Council Committee. The Council also passed Motion M-11-545, co-authored by Councilmembers Clarkson and Johnson, which appointed the membership of the new standing committee. The membership is Councilmember Johnson, Chair, Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, Member, Councilmember Guidry, Member and Councilmember Granderson, Alternate Member.
District "E" Councilmember Johnson said, "As a Council, we face daily the issues and challenges surrounding health, education and social services. Establishing a standing committee will ensure that these vital topics are regularly engaged in a public forum on behalf of the citizens of New Orleans. I am pleased to Chair and lead this Council Committee."
Recognized GNO Inc One of the Nations Top 20 Economic Development Groups
The Council recognized Greater New Orleans (GNO), Inc. for its designation as one of the top twenty economic development organizations in the nation. GNO, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that serves the 10 parishes of the Greater New Orleans region. The organization plans, grows and supports economic development initiatives, generates wealth and improves the quality of life in Greater New Orleans. GNO, Inc. is committed to ensuring that the Greater New Orleans region fulfills its potential as an area with topnotch economic opportunities. The Council presented CEO and President of GNO, Inc. Michael Hecht with a proclamation, thanking the organization for its contribution to the City.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "GNO, Inc. plays a vital role in promoting economic development in New Orleans and across the Metropolitan area. It is clear that the local economic environment is steadily improving. This important national recognition proves just how far we have come and that GNO, Inc. has played a major role in the region's business success. Our future is promising and we owe a debt of gratitude to this outstanding organization."