City funding crunch could lead to first responder furloughs - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

City funding crunch could lead to first responder furloughs

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New Orleans, La - The City of New Orleans faces some potential budget-busting challenges, including two multi-million dollar law enforcement overhaul plans from the U.S. Department of Justice. In the end, the search for funding could come at the expense of public safety and the men and women in uniform.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu is placing much of the funding crisis blame on Capitol Hill.

"Every time the federal government doesn't meet it's obligations, every time they impose things like two consent decrees at one time, they cost us funding, " said Landrieu. "Every time they give us mandates that are unfunded and you lay on top of that sequestration and on top of that Medicaid funding, it always threatens the budget."

The city may have to pay for two multi-million dollar law enforcement overhaul plans set forth by the Department of Justice.  Compounding that burden is the threat of nationwide budget cuts.

"You are going to force either a tax increase on middle-class Americans... you say you don't want that," said Landrieu, "or you're going to force the furlough or layoff of firefighters and police officers, which you say you don't want either. So let's work through this so we can avoid those kinds of catastrophic consequences and I'll keep working hard until we get it right."

The potential consequences are not sitting well with members of the law enforcement community.

"We've got to quit taking away from the police department and it's man power and start taking this crime problem seriously and start supporting our officers, as opposed to finding ways to beat these officers down," said Raymond Burkart, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police.

While Mayor Landrieu says periodic first-responder furloughs are not on the table yet, the demands for more funding are.  

"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't tell the people of the city, listen, you can't have more with less. You're going to get less with less," said Landrieu.

The mayor says he's headed to Washington Thursday as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to talk to Congress about the deep federal budget cuts, due to kick in on Friday if Congress doesn't act to stop them.  The mayors will be telling lawmakers how those cuts will affect cities such as New Orleans.

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