Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Orleans City Council Meeting Notes for December 2, 2010

New Orleans City Council approved the operating and capital budgets for 2011
Scales back proposal, yet property tax and sanitation fees will increase next year to help finance city government

• Council members present: Council President Arnie Fielkow, Stacy Head, Jackie Clarkson, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, Jon Johnson, Susan Guidry, Kristin Gisleson-Palmer.
• Only three people spoke during public hearing regarding budget at 10am. Residents were able to air their opinions on a proposal to raise property tax rates in the city.
• Landrieu's called to roll forward tax millage to an estimated $23 million toward balancing the 2011 budget.
• Fielkow: Council cut will $4 million from the mayor’s budget.
• Council added funding for public defender’s office, animal control and better city planning Fielkow: Landrieu called the budget “the moral document”; three weeks of budget hearings and two weeks extension; “lays a foundation to move the city into 2011 and into years to come,” City Council has received the mayor’s budget with “favorable consideration;” regarding the deficit: “a short fall of this magnitude cannot happen again.” Budget is “a living document” that will be revised throughout the year; sewage plan must be put in place before throwing out money on the problem---“It’s the belief that a full comprehensive plan must be created before throwing money at the problem."
• Cynthia Hedge-Morrell: roll forward of the general approval of a 6.74 mills property-tax increase; "don’t support half measures in these times---this amendment in the budget to increase millage is not reasonable."
• Jackie Clarkston: "We had to make cuts and find more revenue, don’t like property taxes going up, but we had to bite the bullet; didn’t want to cut services, we could not find vital cuts without cutting services so accepted 2 mill increase---“this was our best compromise.”
• Stacy Head: Budget is too heavy of a burden on such a few property taxes; relying on property taxes and increases is not going to work; city has not collected sales taxes and property taxes as required according to recent city assessments; didn’t like the end result of this measure but will comment thoroughly later.
• Palmer: We tried to give the mayor everything he wanted and more.
• Jon Johnson: Will vote for this ordinance and we will have an opportunity to come back in years to come; hopefully we will not get ourselves in the same predicament as the former administration and move to go forward in the best interest of this city; council: next year is a property tax assessment year and we will roll back our millage more; look for revenues elsewhere.
• Fielkow: Mayor and Council has a great partnership.
• The council agreed to reduced the proposed millage increase by two mills, 25 percent, but it still raises taxes.
• Hedge-Morell the only one to vote against 6.74 mills property tax increase.
• Fielkow indicated they will further increase the sanitation fess residents will pay.
• Stacy Head request reports on off budget funding and spending from mayor’s office.
• Capital budget passes unanimously.
• City Council discussed an ordinance to deposit first 3.75 million of sales of blighted properties into the general fund.
• City Council approves property-tax increase for 2011 2 mills short of 8.74 mills that Mayor Landrieu sought.
• Johnson disputes earmarked monies for blight ---suggest it should be added to the general fund from Sheriff’s office---wants the monies monitored very closely for blight that was added to the general fund; resources coming out for blight should go toward neighborhood revitalization.
• Ordinance for blight amendment passes unanimously.
• Budget that will be passed on December 2, 2010 was for $4.80 million.
• Fielkow: Lowered the budget by $1.5 million.
• Kopplin: I can’t tell you exactly what the sanitation fee needs to be.
• Johnson: How do we know how to properly fund sanitation contracts when they aren’t in place?
• Fielkow: Budget will fund virtually all mayoral initiatives despite reduction tax proposal; Johnson: “I will vote for the amended tax increase because this is our first year. We will have opportunity to revisit.
• Head: Afraid tax increase will hurt small business. “ This is not the ultimate result I hoped for, but it is a compromise."
• Hedge-Morrell: Council’s reduction of proposed tax increase is nickel and diming. Prefers full millage increase will vote against the amendment.
• N.O. City Council proposing no new tax revenue for sewerage & water board.
• Mayor's office says the council’s intention to hike trash fee from $12 a month to $22 may not be enough.
• Fielkow continues public response to budget amendments.
• Richard’s Disposal and Metro—citizen speaking on behalf of the contractors: "You can‘t compare one contractor’s expenses with another contractor’s expenses; Mr. Richard has decided to come down on his price like Metro. Evidently, the council is not giving the same opportunity to Richards as with Metro; asking the Council to reconsider and provide the funds for his contract and the monies he invested in his contract to help clean up the city of New Orleans.
• Representative from the local NAACP chapter read a letter: Proposing for Richard’s Disposal to adopt a budget to maintain its current contract from the City of New Orleans with Richards---to prevent the city from becoming involved in a costly legal battle.
• Sanitation ordinance to increase from $12 to $20 unanimously approved.

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