BGR Urges JP Council to Improve Fiscal Planning, Accountability
NEW ORLEANS — From the Bureau of Governmental Research:
In an April 28 letter to the Jefferson Parish Council, BGR recommends ways in which the council can improve planning and public reporting for one-time spending made possible by the receipt of federal pandemic relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act.
In June 2022, the council allocated the Parish’s $84 million of ARPA funds to council district improvement funds ($64 million), over which the council members have considerable discretion, and two facilities: $15 million for the Shrine on Airline stadium and $5 million for the Alario Center. However, it did not spend any of the funds. On April 26, 2023, the council passed Ordinance 26612 which reroutes the ARPA dollars to the Parish’s 2023 general fund budget, freeing up an equivalent amount of general fund money that the council allocated to the district improvement funds and the Shrine on Airline and Alario Center via Ordinance 26605.
The downside for the public is that there will be no federal reporting of the expenditures of the general fund dollars as there would have been with ARPA funds. Nor are councilmembers required to undertake any planning measures before making spending decisions. BGR’s suggestions for strengthening the council’s planning, transparency and accountability build upon the guidance we offered in our 2021 report on local governments’ handling of ARPA funds and our 2022 follow-up report on New Orleans’ spending of its pandemic relief funds.