January 26, 2017
City Council Chamber
City Council Regular Meeting News Summary January 26, 2017
NEW ORLEANS - At today's City Council meeting, the Council heard a presentation from InspireNOLA Schools, recognizing their academic achievements; honored the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale and Mardi Gras Queens, and established the 2017 Mardi Gras parade schedule.
Additionally, the Council passed amendments to the municipal code for fee waiver allowances; approved ad valorem taxes to levy drainage and additional fire protection millage rates for 2017; introduced an ordinance to establish the Equal Pay Advisory Committee; and voted to approve the redevelopment of three vacant, historic properties as the Bayou Treme Center.
Established 2017 Mardi Gras Parade Schedule
The Council unanimously approved the official parade schedule for Mardi Gras 2017. Parades will begin Friday, February 17, with the Krewe of Oshun at 6 p.m. and will end with the Pete Fountain and Mondo Kayo parades Tuesday, February 28, at 7:45 a.m.
To see the schedule in its entirety, click here.
Drainage and Additional Fire Protection Millage Rates
The Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance relative to ad valorem taxes to levy drainage and additional fire protection millage rates for 2017. New Orleans voters approved two citywide propositions - a new 2.5-mill property tax increase for fire protection services and renewal of an existing property tax for drainage services - on December 10, 2016. The ordinance allows the collection of the taxes authorized by that vote.
The fire protection proposition will yield nearly $9 million a year for 12 years, beginning next year, and would not be subject to the homestead exemption. Revenue from the tax will help pay for tens of millions of dollars in legal judgments the city owes firefighters and their pension fund.
The Sewerage and Water Board proposition will renew an existing 4.66-mill property tax at a lower rate of 4.46 mills. This millage is dedicated to maintaining critical drainage services throughout the city.
Equal Pay Advisory Committee Introduced
At today's meeting, Councilmember Brossett introduced an ordinance to establish the Equal Pay Advisory Committee, which was co-authored by Councilmember Cantrell. The Advisory Committee will provide advice, feedback, guiding principles, policies and subject matter expertise to the City Council on matters relating to pay equality, wage discrimination, poverty in New Orleans.
More than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, women and people of color continue to suffer the consequences of pay inequality. In Louisiana, women make only 65 percent of that of their male counterparts.
Addressing wage disparity and pay equity has long been a priority for Councilmember Brossett. As a result, in 2013, then State Representative Brossett co-authored Act 374, which created the "Equal Pay for Women Act." In 2015, he authored, and the Council passed the first living wage law in the history of New Orleans. In November 2016, he began working with the City Attorney and the Law Department to consider various options the City has regarding equal pay legislation.
The committee will tentatively consist of nine members. If adopted, the advisory committee shall be appointed as follows:
- Each Councilmember shall appoint one member to the advisory committee;
- The Director of the Office of Workforce Development shall serve on the committee or select a designee; and
- The Director of the Civil Service Department shall serve on the committee or select a designee.
"From living wage to equal pay, I am committed to addressing wage discrimination and pay equity," said District "D" Councilmember Brossett. "Pay inequality isn't just a women's issue; it is a family issue. This committee will serve to remedy the city-wide consequences of wage discrimination."
The second ordinance, which Councilmember Brossett hopes to introduce to the Council early next month, will ban pay discrimination for city workers and contractors, as it pertains to the public sector.
Development of the Bayou Treme Center for Arts & Education
Councilmember Brossett and his colleagues unanimously approved Zoning Docket 123/16 today for the development of the Bayou Treme Center for Arts & Education.
Alembic Community Development and Rose Community Development Corporation have partnered to redevelop three vacant, historic properties as the Bayou Treme Center, a new 1.5-acre hub for the arts, education, and community in the former St Rose de Lima church building on Bayou Road and two schoolhouses on Columbus Street in the 7th Ward. The campus will include a three-part program:
- Performing Arts Hub: The development will be anchored by a performing arts hub; operated by Southern Rep Theatre, New Orleans' acclaimed theatre production company; with a mission to deliver programming for youth.
- Early Childhood - 8th Grade School: The three-story schoolhouse at 2539 Columbus Street will be renovated for the Waldorf School of New Orleans; a nonprofit school operating in the City for 15 years that integrates academics with the arts, culture, and community.
- Shared Office Space: The two-story schoolhouse at 2533 Columbus Street will be renovated into shared office spaces targeting small businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations.
Honored Krewe of Femme Fatale and Mardi Gras Queens
The Council honored the Mardi Gras Queens of New Orleans and heard a presentation from representatives of the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale. The Council heard from President Gwendolyn Rainey, Dr. Takeisha Davis, Anna Marie Allen, Denise Washington, and Barbara Lacen-Keller.
The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale, founded in 2013, offers women of all creeds and colors a unique opportunity to promote and support New Orleans' cultural landscape through participation in the annual season. Their organization seeks to promote friendship, sociability, and esteem.
Additionally, Councilmember Ramsey issued a resolution recognizing and honoring the Mardi Gras Queens of Femme Fatale for the 2017 Carnival season. The resolution recognized these special ladies for their contributions to the celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the First Annual Declaration of the Crown Jewels, Inc.
To see the resolution in its entirety, click here.
Fee Waiver Reform
The Council voted today to end the longstanding policy of waiving special event fees for nonprofit organizations. The Council routinely waives those fees, from parade licenses for second lines to usage fees for fairs and festivals, as well as alcohol permits.
At the meeting on December 15, 2016, Councilmember Head introduced four ordinances to change the fee waivers system in New Orleans. Two ordinances proposed to adjust the special event fees that would be charged. The remaining two were budget ordinances, which conservatively estimated the additional revenue these reforms would generate.
The Council deferred its vote on revisions to the municipal code for fee waiver allowances at the last City Council meeting on January 12. At that meeting, the Council held a thorough debate over whether organizations with state-designated nonprofit status can receive the same treatment as federally designated 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
Under the amended measure brought back up for vote today, smaller nonprofits without the federal designation will have to pay full price for events. The newly developed amendments reduce many of the fees and allow for an automatic 50 percent reduction to be applied to fees for 501(c) organizations, public schools, and state non-profit corporations with federal employee identification numbers. This reduction will apply to the following:
- NOFD Tent Inspections
- Special Event Alcohol Permits
- Special Event Mayoralty Permits
- Certificates of Occupancy and Use
- Road Race Permits
- DPW Permits for Mardi Gras
- Vendor zones and Street Closures
- Occupational License Taxes for Circuses
- Concerts and Special Events
- Metered Street Parking Rental
"I want to thank my colleagues for all their hard work and support in drafting these amendments, said Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head. "I'm happy to have been able to provide the clarity necessary for this ordinance to pass."