NOLA City Council backs $600 million 2016 budget

NOLA City Council backs $600 million 2016 budget

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council backed a $600 million operating budget for the city for next year. But a procedural issue with a public notice kept the council from formally approving the spending plan on Thursday.

"I'd like to say to all of the council members today is a job well done," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said while surrounded by council members shortly after consideration of budgetary matters concluded.

The budget Landrieu put before the council pays for 150 additional NOPD officers and a 15 percent pay raise for officers. The city's fire department also will get millions more for additional fire fighters.

"This budget doubles down on public safety," said the mayor.

"We're trying to improve the quality of life here in the city of New Orleans," said Councilman-at-Large Jason Williams.

"It also includes $61 million for the sheriff to operate a constitutional jail," Landrieu said.

Also among the council's actions was approval of a budget amendment that adds $1 million to the funds for the 911 call center.

"It's a very stressful position. They're our first line of defense when someone has an emergency," said Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey.

"So that they can have more call takers, giving them pay raises and funds for the consolidation, so that we can improve dispatch and response times, also added $250,000 for the public defender to increase that funding by $400,000 from last year's to stave off the furloughs and to help with the criminal justice system," said the mayor.

The head of the Orleans Parish Public Defender's Office had warned that furloughs would be coming in early 2016 because of funding shortfalls.

In council chambers and in the mayor's office there was talk of how the administrative and legislative branches of city government had again worked together to accomplish a balanced budget for the incoming year, and was accomplished during lean times.

But because of a public notice glitch, the council will take the official vote approving the budget on Dec. 1.

But in passing amendments to the budget the majority of the council didn't go along with one that would have paid for security at city recreational centers. Some said it would be bad for the children who might get the wrong perception of having police so close to their play areas.

"The best way to ensure safety and security for our children is to give them attention, to give them programs, to give them activities, not to put policemen to watch them," said Councilman James Gray.

The amendment was sponsored by Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell.

"I'm not raising 30, 40 years ago, I'm raising my 7-year-old daughter today - let's be real. People are doing all sorts of things to our children," she said as it was evident the amendment would fail.

The administration also wants an increase in parking meter rates.

The budget ordinances will be part of the council's regular consent agenda on Dec. 1, a vote that essentially be a formality.

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