NEW ORLEANS - The City Council has just completed its hearings on the Mayor's proposed 2019 Budget and will now deliberate adoption. City Council Vice President Helena Moreno praised many initiatives in the budget including:
Funding Criminal District Court: "I strongly support fully-funding the Criminal District Court, which is included in the 2019 proposed City budget. The current 'user-pay' system of criminal justice is hardly justice at all and doubles down on the inequities ingrained in the Criminal Justice system. A steady funding stream removes the negative incentives and ends the reign of an immoral, unethical, and unjust system that fed on the poor and encouraged unnecessary incarceration."
Pay Raises For City Employees and New Orleans Police Department (NOPD): "Making the city more equitable means paying everyone a living wage - wages that lift people out of poverty, help them raise families, and enable all to prosper. Higher pay means hiring and retaining better City employees who can provide better service for citizens. Similarly, increasing pay for brave NOPD officers helps retain good personnel and attract more to the ranks to help grow manpower and keep New Orleans safer."
Funding the District Attorney (DA) Diversion Program: "I'm encouraged to see the funding of the DA's Diversion Program, a critical tool for criminal justice reform."
Creating the Offices of Youth and Families, Transportation and Utilities: "These executive offices have the opportunity to break through bottlenecks to expedite the coordination of services or regulations that enhance quality of life. As long as we avoid duplication, these offices, especially Youth and Families and Transportation, can help place focus on critical issues facing the community like access to public transportation and a response to the youth trauma whose consequences ripples throughout the city."
"The City budget is the most important and complex piece of legislation the City Council considers each year," said Councilmember Moreno. "I believe the budget must be a vivid reflection of our values: equity, affordability, and public safety. I do agree that this budget recognizes our values, yet there are some items that I'd like to continue to work on."
Don't Charge Citizens Higher Penalties For Traffic Offenses To Replace Traffic Camera Revenue: "I do not support increasing traffic enforcement by diverting NOPD overtime manpower and charging motorists with more expensive state offenses - instead of municipal violations."
Lack of Investment in Flood-Risk Reduction: "Prioritizing catch basin cleaning - the front door of New Orleans' flood protection system - is essential. The Council is ready and willing to fund the Department of Public Works' efforts and work with the Administration to do so."
Depleting the Fund Balance: "Reducing the Fund Balance to approximately $3 million leaves very little room for adjustments during the year. I worry about our dependence on one-time money. This isn't a sustainable model for budgeting and creates exposure for the city in the coming years. I am interested in seeing the City find ways to right-size the spending and match reoccurring expenses to reoccurring revenues, and not rely on reserve and one-time funds to pay for priorities we all have."
"I look forward to continuing dialogue on these issues and strongly commend Mayor Cantrell and Chief Administrative Officer Montano for their diligent work on their first City budget," Moreno concluded.
Chief of Staff
Office of Councilmember-at-Large Helena Moreno