Landrieu unveils 2014 budget; OPP reform funds omitted - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Landrieu unveils 2014 budget; OPP consent decree funds omitted

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Mayor Landrieu address questions from media about his budget proposal Tuesday. Mayor Landrieu address questions from media about his budget proposal Tuesday.

NEW ORLEANS - Mayor Mitch Landrieu unveiled his proposed 2014 operating budget for city government Tuesday, and public safety is a priority. But Landrieu did not include funding for reforms at Orleans Parish Prison.

Landrieu has proposed a $504 million spending plan for 2014. This year's budget was $496 million.

Landrieu said the NOPD, the NOFD and EMS will get more funds if the City Council approves his budget. The NOPD would have funds to hire more officers.

"We will fully fund five new recruit classes, which will train 150 new police officers," said Landrieu.

The budget also includes $6 million for NOPD consent decree reforms.

Landrieu unveiled his budget to the news media on the second floor of City Hall and then spoke briefly to the City Council. His staffers then presented more details to the council members.

"You have a very, very difficult task," Landrieu said to the Council.

The Council is not expected to rubber-stamp his budget proposal.

"We want to make sure that the impact of the police budget going up is more police officers on the street in the neighborhoods," said Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

Under the mayor's budget, funding for the district attorney's office and criminal court would remain at this year's level, as would funding for the criminal sheriff's office. That means Landrieu did not include any funds in the budget for consent decree reforms at the OPP. Landrieu has been in a protracted fight with the sheriff over funding millions of dollars in improvements at the jail.

"There is a specific number in the budget to fund the sheriff's operation, and it is the same as it was last year," stated Landrieu.

"I believe the judge has indicated that he wants us, the mayor and the City Council to work on the budget and make a determination for what we think will be needed for next year and then the judge will review it thereafter," said Councilwoman Susan Guidry.

It is clear the Council will put the sheriff's budget under the microscope before deciding whether to add in dollars for reforms.

"We are going to talk to him four or five times and we're going to go into detail about what would be needed and what funding he has," Hedge-Morrell said.

Meanwhile, the mayor said more than a dozen city departments or entities will be cut under his budget.

"Some departments may lose as much as 30 percent, but we've trying to replace some of the funds in those departments with federal funds," said CAO and Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin.

But despite the cuts some city departments would weather if the mayor's budget is approved by the City Council in its current form, Landrieu said he does not anticipate there will be a need for any pink slips at City Hall.

"We don't expect that, unless we learn things that we don't know of right now - unless we are saddled with huge judgments that we can't deal with - we don't expect to have layoffs and or furloughs," he said.

Landrieu said the financial headaches aside, the important challenges will addressed.

"At the end of the day, we will have a jail that is constitutional," he said. "At the end of the day, we will have a police department that is constitutional. My job is to fly the plane while we're fixing it and not let it crash. That's what my job is, and that's the one that I intend to do."

Some of the city departments that would get fewer funds are Safety and Permits, Public Works, and the Mayor's Office. Juvenile Court would also see a cut in funding next year if the Council approves Landrieu's budget.

The deadline for approving a balanced budget is Dec. 1.

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