December 20, 2018 10:00 AM
City Council Chamber
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NEW ORLEANS - At today's regular City Council meeting, the Council approved an ordinance establishing processes and procedures for participation in the Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption Program (ITEP), created a new Quality of Life Special Committee, amended the City Code relative to road race restrictions, passed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) for the provision of consolidated call-taking services, established a "Do Not Toss" newspaper registry, and confirmed Councilmember Jay H. Banks to serve on the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB).
Additionally, the Council heard presentations from Dillard University on its efforts to reach first-year students through civic engagement and the Algiers Tricentennial Committee on Algiers Day. The Council also welcomed the mock trial team from St. Augustine High School to congratulate and recognize them on their first-place finish in a recent competition at the Criminal District Court.
The Council with members of the St. Augustine High School Mock Trial Team during today's meeting
Council Approves ITEP Participation Ordinance
The Council unanimously approved an ordinance to establish the general review process, procedure and approval criteria for participation in the ITEP, which offers tax incentives for manufacturers in Louisiana. Since 1998, this program has cost New Orleans more than $210 million in lost property tax revenue without creating any jobs. To avoid these types of issues in the future, Governor Edwards passed an executive order that provided terms and conditions for participation in the ITEP, including approval by resolution from the local governing body (i.e., the City Council). Today's ordinance will allow the Council to be included in the exemption process and to set its own rules.
As stated by Councilmember Moreno, "This ordinance is not an attempt to eliminate ITEP, but it will add transparency to the process and send a clear message to large industrial companies that if they are seeking a major tax break from the city, then we expect them to bring real prosperity to our people in return. The people of New Orleans know that we have many needs in this city, every dollar matters. I stand with those who are tired of New Orleans not getting its fair share - at least with this; we can start getting a piece back."
Creation of New Committee to Address Quality of Life Issues
The Council passed Councilmember Giarrusso's motion to create a Quality of Life Special Committee to serve as a forum for constituents and City agencies to address quality of life issues within the City of New Orleans. The committee, which will consist of district Councilmembers, will hold public hearings to receive critical input from residents in an attempt to identify and address overlapping issues and complaints across districts.
Meetings of the committee will begin in the early part of 2019 and will focus on various issues not regularly discussed in other Council committees including blight, potholes, drainage, and more. Councilmember Giarrusso introduced the idea of the committee as a result of the volume of constituent calls and complaints amongst the various Council offices, many of which are similar or pertaining to the same issues. With the establishment of the Quality of Life Special Committee, the Council hopes to address these issues more efficiently and effectively through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
Councilmember Banks Confirmed as Member of S&WB
With adoption of Motion M-18-559, the Council approved the appointment of Councilmember Jay H. Banks to serve on the S&WB effective Jan. 1, 2019. Councilmember Giarrusso announced the selection of Councilmember Banks as the newest member of the utility at a special Public Works Committee meeting following the Dec. 8 election, at which Orleans Parish voters approved an amendment to change the S&WB's composition. This change replaced one citizen member appointed by the Mayor in lieu of either the Public Works Committee Chair (Giarrusso), a member appointed by the Chair, or a civil engineer appointed by the Chair.
"I'm excited and humbled to be the public's voice, eyes, and ears on the S&WB," said Councilmember Banks. "A myriad of problems exist, and we're not going to fix them all overnight, but I'm intent on eating the elephant one bite at a time until we get a system that everyone will be proud of and pleased with the services they are receiving."
The Council Utility Regulatory Office (CURO) has created a position for a civil engineer to provide the Council with technical advice as it pertains to the City's utilities, including the S&WB. Newly appointed Councilmember Banks, who recently served on the S&WB governance task force, will have full access to the in-house Council engineer to support him on technical matters.
"With the S&WB, the public deserves both accountability and engineering expertise. Instead of unilaterally selecting either a councilperson or a civil engineer, I want to set a precedent of publicly discussing the approach my colleagues and I believe is in the best interest of all New Orleanians," said Councilmember Giarrusso. "This approach accomplishes the best of all worlds by combining public accountability and familiarity with S&WB and its leadership with internal technical expertise and support to the appointee. And while I will not serve on the S&WB for now, I will continue to demand that the utility serve all of the residents' needs and look forward to having Councilmember Banks on the S&WB who will demand the same."
Council Moves Forward with Consolidation of Call-Taking Services
The Council approved a CEA between the City and Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) for the provision of consolidated call-taking services. As a result, OPCD will now be responsible for providing emergency, non-emergency and 3-1-1 calls. In 2016, the City and OPCD entered into a CEA to consolidate 9-1-1 call-taking services under the management and responsibility of OPCD. The measure adopted by the Council today renews, expands, and extends the existing partnership bringing 3-1-1 calls under the OPCD's jurisdiction.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell introduced the combination of the two call centers in her 2019 City Budget proposal as part of a broader initiative to cross-train City workers across different departments with similar missions. According to the initial proposal, the consolidation is expected to save the City approximately $900,000 a year and allow 3-1-1 to remain accessible during times of emergency.
As a separate agenda item, the Council also approved the Operating Budget of the OPCD for 2019.
Road Races Prohibited During Election Days
The Council amended the City Code relative to road race requirements and restrictions, including a prohibition of road races on elections days effective April 1, 2019. Per the ordinance, "no permit will be issued for any road race on a primary, special or general election day," with the exception of time allocated for early voting. This measure will increase accountability and transparency and help ensure the voting process is as easy possible for Orleans Parish residents.
Council Establishes "Do Not Toss" Newspaper Registry
The Council passed a "Do Not Toss" ordinance to allow New Orleans residents to opt out of having unsolicited newspapers tossed on or around their home. Beginning Jan. 31, 2019, residents can add their name and address to the "Do Not Toss" registry through the City's website, nola.gov, or by calling 3-1-1. Residents on the list may still receive unsolicited printed materials, including newspapers but they are required to be placed on their doorstep, dropped into a mail slot, attached to the door, or hand delivered.
"We've all seen unwanted newspapers littering our sidewalks, neighborhood streets, and homes," said District "C" Councilmember Kristin Palmer. "They can be hazardous to residents and clog our catch basins. Since residents say they're unable to unsubscribe with publishers, this ordinance creates another option, allowing citizens to opt out with the City. We appreciate the newspapers' collaboration on this and welcome their continued lawful delivery since they provide a service to many residents."
Unwanted newspapers littering New Orleans streets and sidewalks