NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council released a statement about using city-issued credit cards for personal spending:
"The purpose of a City Council office "other operating" budget and Council member access to a credit card is to allow the purchase of items and services they see as necessary to the administration of their office. These purchases are at the discretion of each Council member and include but are not limited to various supplies and furnishings, to invest in government training and professional development expenses, and to conduct constituent outreach and communications as each Council member sees fit.
"The New Orleans City Council is a separate, independent branch of government comprised of seven independently elected members with our own separate duties, responsibilities and policies. We are not a department of the Mayor and are not required to follow the Mayor's purchasing plan. In fact, in many cases, it is cheaper to independently find the lowest price for office supplies rather than to simply purchase them through the City's contracted supplier. Each member is guided by the policy in place and makes that determination for his or her own office.
"The New Orleans City Council has a fiscal and administrative policy in place regarding the use of its budget. This policy outlines what items are not to be purchased. While there is always room for policy and practices to be reviewed and updated, it is important to note that this Council has consistently spent less than its allocated budget and returned dollars to the general fund.
"For at least the last three years, this Council returned money to the general fund. Additionally, we lowered our budget allocation for each Council office from $40,000 to $35,000 in 2014 and again from $35,000 to $30,000 in 2017. The Council's budget as a whole decreased $511,730 from 2016 to 2017.
"We continue to cooperate with all requests for disclosures of our use of taxpayer dollars. As elected officials and public servants, we hold that transparency is the base standard by which we conduct ourselves."
All of the city council members signed the statement.