Governor Edwards talks oversight & transparency as N.O. prepares to receive millions for drainage needs

Governor Edwards talks oversight & transparency as N.O. prepares to receive millions for drainage

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards says the state will work with the city of New Orleans to ensure that every dollar of the millions heading to the city for drainage and other improvements is spent on infrastructure.

Recently the governor signed into law three bills that are part of a wide-ranging deal that will net the city millions in upfront and recurring revenues.

Edwards told FOX 8 News this week that the state will have oversight over how state dollars are spent by the city.

"Yes, there are multiple ways we're going to do that,” said Edwards.

New Orleans will get $50 million in upfront funding this year which includes $22 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds, and $28 million from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Additionally, the deal provides $17.5 million by delaying Go-Zone repayments the city owes to the state, and the three bills the governor signed will allow the city to receive another $26 million in recurring funding to address drainage and other infrastructure needs.

Edwards oversaw the negotiations between the state, city and tourism industry which resulted in the deal.

"For those dollars that are coming from the state, whether it's the convention center, whether it's hazard mitigation money that flows through GOHSEP, all of those dollars will reach the city of New Orleans by virtue of a cooperative endeavor agreement, so those CEA's will spell out exactly what purposes the money can and will be spent on, and so I have no fear that we won't have the proper oversight and transparency,” said Edwards.

Also, Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s administration and the top manager of the Sewerage and Water Board met with members of the media to discuss processes related to receiving the money and spending priorities.

"It's about 10 different council votes and about 13 different CEAs that we're trying to be very precise going through the process,” said City Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano.

He said city hall expects to receive the upfront dollars soon.

"All things perfect we hope to have money to the Sewerage and Water Board as early as August to be paying down the debt. There are some stages to go through when we go into the recurring dollars, the vast majority if everything goes well would be coming the first quarter of 2020,” said Montano.

The infusion of new money will help the struggling Sewerage and Water Board repay what the aging drainage system needed to borrow from the agency’s sewer and water sectors.

"Obviously, this cash coming in allows that allows us the flexibility to do just that because now if we make our vendors whole once that money comes in then that gives us a little bit more flexibility breathing room in terms of moving money back to where it belongs because every division has its own responsibility,” said S&WB Executive Director Ghassan Korban.

And the governor promises to keep tabs on the progress as the city benefits from a multi-million-dollar agreement.

"We will make sure that we’re working with the city off New Orleans and every single dollar gets to the infrastructure needs that it was designed for,” stated Edwards.

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