Furloughs to continue in 2021 under mayor’s new budget

Furloughs to continue in 2021 under mayor’s new budget

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The head of the New Orleans firefighters union says firemen will be looking for jobs elsewhere under a new budget proposed by Mayor LaToya Cantrell today. The mayor says most city employees will be forced to take a furlough day every pay period in the new year as the city struggles with coronavirus debt.

Mayor Cantrell says the city is going to have to deal with 100 million fewer dollars in next years budget and she’s asking all city departments to take a 20 percent cut.

New Orleans mayor Latoya Cantrell is presenting a budget for 2021 that’s one of the most austere anyone can remember.

“We have to be aware that the City Of New Orleans is experiencing an unprecedented physical crisis due to the pandemic,” said Cantrell.

The mayor says hundreds of employees will continue having to take one furlough day per pay period in the year ahead in an effort to make up a $100 million budget shortfall.

“It’s incredibly risky to cut public safety but to take guys off the street and close stations it’s almost a guarantee that lives will be lost,” said New Orleans Firefighters' union head Aaron Mischler.

The fire department budget has been cut by 8.2 percent, the New Orleans Police Department budget has been cut by 6 percent.

But steps are being taken to exempt certain low wage employees.

“If things go another way we may reimburse those employees and people who make less than $30,000 we ask that they be exempted,” said CAO Gilbert Montano, with the City of New Orleans.

The head of the firefighters union says staffing is currently so low that four fire houses are now periodically closed and he says some firefighters will look elsewhere for work.

“I’m sure they will be now that they say it’s gonna go until next year it’s a hard pill to swallow when you don’t need to make enough money as it is,” said Mischler.

“We’re gonna get through it we have to face it but I have no doubt that we’re gonna get through it,” said Cantrell.

The mayor says her budget projections assume that voters will renew a five mill property tax next year. If they don’t, she says the anticipated cuts will get worse.

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