Regular Meeting

October 26, 2017 

City Council Chamber

City Council Regular Meeting News Summary October 26, 2017

At today's City Council meeting, the Council passed measures authorizing pay raises for New Orleans Police Department officers, adopted two ordinances and a resolution to appropriate funds to the Department of Law for outstanding settlements and judgments, approved a motion to limit the number of Adult Live Performance Venues, and authorized a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to allow for collaboration in design, remodeling, operation and funding for the new low barrier homeless shelter.

Additionally, the Council approved the addition of federal funds for the completion of the St. Roch Drainage Project, passed an ordinance relative to bail to clarify timing requirements relative to initial appearances, set a date for the adoption of 2018 Budget Matters, authorized an agreement for ongoing maintenance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Walk and recognized October as Domestic Violence and Youth Justice Awareness Month with presentations from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Family Justice Center. Prior to the start of today's meeting, the Council recognized and congratulated Jodee Pulizzano for her milestone 800th victory as coach of the Ben Franklin High School Volleyball Team.

Council Approves Pay Raises for New Orleans Police Department Officers

Today, the Council approved a new pay plan for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) that includes comprehensive raises for most officers. The plan was first approved on Oct. 10, 2017, at a meeting of the New Orleans Civil Service Commission.

The Council adopted a series of motions relative to the new plan, which proposes a 10 percent raise in base pay for entry-level police officers, an additional 10 percent raise for detectives, and 10 percent raises for sergeants and lieutenants. Additionally, it replaces the current structure, which utilizes pay steps for Police Officer I, II, III and IV, with the creation of a "senior police officer" position.  

This year, it was reported that the department was staffed at more than 300 less its size in 2010. These measures will allow the NOPD to be more effective in keeping the residents of New Orleans safe through retaining its current officers and attracting more men and women to the department.

In light of the recent death of Officer Marcus McNeil, the entire Council offered full support and sincere gratitude toward Chief Michael Harrison, who was present to advocate on behalf of the plan, and the entire NOPD.

"Regardless of any bad press or negative comments that may be out there, we have to say, overwhelmingly, that the men and women of the NOPD handle large crowds and life-threatening situations better than any other department in the world," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "This classified pay plan is the entire City and government's way of saying thank you for the incredible work you do each and every day and the tremendous sacrifices you've made on behalf of the people of New Orleans."

Measures Passed to Alleviate City's Unpaid Judgments

The Council voted to approve two ordinances and a resolution relative to the appropriation of necessary funds to the Department of Law for outstanding settlements and judgments, taking a significant step towards paying down the City's unpaid judgment backlog.

This year, the Council has taken steps to pay off outstanding unpaid judgments and legal settlements, which date back 20 years and amount to more than $40 million. At its meeting on Sept. 14, 2017, the Council unanimously approved a new fund to set aside $2 million a year starting in 2019 to pay off legal rulings and out-of-court settlements against the City and granted preliminary approval for the issuance of up to $10 million of bonds in order to cover outstanding judgments.

The measures approved today further ensure payment to residents who have yet to receive the money they deserve and the implementation of a sustainable payment system moving forward.

Efforts to Limit Adult Live Performance Venues Receives Full Support of the Council

Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head introduced a motion, which was unanimously approved by the Council, to place limits on Adult Live Performance Venues (ALPVs) in the French Quarter. Motion M-17-552 seeks to set a cap of 13 clubs, the number currently operating, and limits them to one per blockface in the Vieux Carre Entertainment District along Bourbon Street.

With this measure, the Council directs the City Planning Commission (CPC) to conduct a public hearing to consider amendments to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) of the City to incorporate recommendation three of the CPC's 2016 Adult Live Performance Venues (ALPV) Study in an effort to ultimately reduce the number of ALPVs through attrition.

"Today the Council took a step toward reducing the number and concentration of strip clubs in the French Quarter," said Councilmember Head. "However, it is not a panacea. We also need more effective and coordinated law enforcement to protect the vulnerable targets of sex traffickers."

To view the full comprehensive study by the CPC, click here.

Funding and Operation Measures Approved for New Low Barrier Homeless Shelter

The Council authorized the Mayor to enter into a CEA between the City, the Downtown Development District (DDD), and the Ernest N. Memorial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority to accomplish a valuable purpose of enhancing public services available to the homeless population.

This agreement will allow collaboration between these entities for design, remodeling, operation and funding of the new low barrier shelter located on the second floor of the former Veterans Affairs hospital on Gravier Street.

In September of this year, City officials announced that Start Corp., a nonprofit organization based in Houma, was selected to run the 100-bed facility. With nearly 500 people forced to sleep on the streets any given night, Start Corp., in partnership with the DDD, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the City, will work to connect New Orleans' most underprivileged with not only shelter but an array of critical social services all in one spot.

"We have to meet people where they are." said District "B" Councilmember LaToya Cantrell. "The shelter will enhance public services for our homeless, and in turn, enhance the quality of life for all of us."

St. Roch Drainage Project to Receive Additional Federal Funds

The Council authorized the Mayor to enter into an amendment to a previously executed CEA between the City and the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness relative to the completion of the St. Roch Drainage Project through an additional $114,038 in federal funds.

The St. Roch neighborhood project area includes a 26-city block section bounded by N. Roberston Street, Franklin, St. Claude and Elysian Fields Avenues. The storm drain system is undersized, and approximately half of the streets within the project area have little or no existing drainage infrastructure. As a result, the neighborhood has historically suffered chronic flooding from even minor rain events.

For the St. Roch neighborhood, this project will greatly improve streetscape aesthetics and the quality of life for residents. This additional funding will exponentially assist in its successful completion and implementation.

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Ordinance Passed to Clarify Certain Bail Requirements

The Council passed an ordinance to amend the Code of the City of New Orleans relative to bail in order to clarify timing requirements relative to initial appearances. This is an amendment to the bail ordinance that was unanimously passed by the Council in January 2017 and went into effect on April 23, 2017.

According to a 2015 Vera Institute of Justice report, New Orleans spent roughly $6.4 million detaining people who were jailed only because they couldn't pay bills imposed upon them by the City's criminal justice system. This adversely affects both criminal defendants and the economy, as the cost of jailing those unable to afford bail, fees and fines often exceeds the amount of money collected.

As a result, District "A" Councilmember Susan Guidry introduced this ordinance to ease bond requirements for certain defendants. For the municipal offenses outlined, the bail schedule directs that the defendant be detained until the initial appearance hearing, which is to be held no later than 24 hours after the time of booking. For all municipal offenses not specified in the ordinance, the bail schedule directs that the defendant be released on his or her own recognizance, without the requirement of posting any financial obligation.

Council Sets Date to Adopt 2018 Budget Matters

The Council approved a motion to set a date of Dec. 1, 2017, for the adoption of 2018 Budget Matters, and to notify the public of its intent to adopt ad valorem property taxes for the 2018 budget at that meeting.

At the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 1, the Council will vote on the proposed operating and capital budgets for the 2018 fiscal year, which were presented by Mayor Mitch Landrieu on July 31, 2017.

Created on: 6/21/2018 11:28:44 AM | Last updated: 6/21/2018 11:28:44 AM


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