Mayor Cantrell Requests Mid-Year Budget Adjustments To Fund Public Safety, Government Operations and Quality of Life Initiatives

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NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The City of New Orleans met with the New Orleans City Council Special Budget-Audit Board of Review Committee to advance mid-year budget adjustments to restore government operations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city filed Ordinances No. 33,466, 33,467, and 33,468 on Sept. 23, 2021 authorizing the mid-year budget adjustments of allocated funds for restored City services. The proposed 2021 adjustment appropriates approximately $77 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to address critical operating needs in the city, focused on four priority areas to include enhancing public safety services to address crime, launching of new public safety initiatives, restoring government operations impacted by revenue shortfalls, and initiatives that improve the quality of life for residents.

“Now is the time to move our city forward as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our budget constraints, by rightfully allocating funding in some of our most critical government operational areas,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “This is an  opportunity for us to shift our focus back toward critical city services, and to launch new public safety initiatives after operating with very limited resources for so long. This funding is also critical in making our dedicated city employees whole again by paying back their salaries lost due to pandemic furloughs.”

Enhanced Public Safety Services That Address Crime

The city will allocate additional funding to restore budget cuts to agencies that address crime and public safety challenges faced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes proposed compensation for 164 police officers that will be promoted to the position of Senior Police Officer for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), staffing enhancement and recruitment for the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) License Plate Readers.

New Public Safety Initiatives 

Initiatives that were slated to begin in 2020/2021 but were unfunded, will receive the mid-year budget adjustment allocation through 2022 and beyond. NOPD, the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD), the Orleans Public Defenders Office, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, and the courts will partner to implement various preventive criminal justice programs. The Alternate Response Program will provide 24/7 Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams to respond to non-violent, mental health-related calls for service. Additional new initiatives include the Municipal Court Mental Health Program and Restorative Justice Program.

Government Operations Restoration  

Government operations that have been impacted by revenue shortfalls will begin to have funding restored. The city will prioritize this portion of the mid-year budget allocations to increase staffing levels, provide additional operational funding support, and enhance enforcement actions through Office of Business and External Services (OBES), which includes the Department of Safety and Permits, Department of Code Enforcement, and the City Planning Commission. It will also end furloughs instituted due to the pandemic by paying back city employees for the required furlough days.

Improve Quality of Life 

Initiatives that improve the quality of life for residents and visitors will receive funding to extend programmatic reach. The city’s CleanUpNOLA initiative will receive mid-year funding to initiate several self-reinforcing pillars to eliminate backlogs, enhance processes, enforce consequences, and educate residents to improve beautification efforts in New Orleans. The city plans to also expand the community navigators program to connect residents with local, state, and federal resources available such as rental assistance and support for COVID-19 support services.

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