NEW ORLEANS, LA— As the state legislative session closed today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu applauded the Orleans Delegation for their leadership in passing legislation that will help solve the city’s budget challenges and help make a safer New Orleans.
Key successes included the passage a constitutional amendment that will go before a vote of the people allowing for an increase in the police and fire millage to fund police and fire protection; streamlining of the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, saving $1.12 million per year for the City General Fund; requiring the State to honor its obligation to pay for casino support services, securing $3.6 million annually; continuing reforms of the firefighters pension fund; and securing funding for several capital outlay projects, including the new airport project.
“I am proud of the work we did in partnership with the Orleans Delegation this session to strengthen public safety, improve City services and address financial liabilities,” said Mayor Landrieu. “These were tough reform efforts. Our delegation worked together to draft and pass legislation that is focused on delivering results for our residents and businesses.”
Mayor Landrieu traveled to Baton Rouge multiple times during the legislative session to meet with area lawmakers and state leaders about the City of New Orleans’ priorities. City Councilmembers and local board chairs also joined the effort.
Rep. Walt Leger said, "Overall, this session was very productive for New Orleans. I am especially proud that Governor Jindal has signed House Bill 389 into law. Under the terms of the Casino Support Services Contract, the State of Louisiana owes the City of New Orleans an obligation of $3.6 million a year, and this instrument sets out a measured approach to ensuring that the State meets its obligation each and every year. I am pleased we are able to put this behind us once and for all."
Senator J.P. Morrell said, “I am pleased we were successful in accomplishing major victories for the citizens of New Orleans. We were able to pass a constitutional amendment to give the city flexibility to meet its public safety needs, reform and restructure the courts and address financial liabilities to city government all while increasing the efficiency of operations. It was a great team effort on the part of the administration, council and the delegation.”
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, "Downsizing the Juvenile Court is an important step in ensuring that we make the best use of our limited resources. By making the Court more efficient, we can free up much needed funds to continue working to improve the lives of our city’s families and children.”
District D Councilmember Jared Brossett said, “It’s important that the government of New Orleans have the flexibility to present options to the voters to address the needs of police and fire which we know are competitive pay, intense recruitment efforts and community policing.”
Below is a summary of key legislative victories that were part of the City’s agenda.
POLICE AND FIRE MILLAGE (HB 111, Rep. Leger)
Public safety is the Administration’s top priority, and the measure will help put more police officers on the street. Passage of this bill allows the people of this state to vote on a constitutional amendment that will give the New Orleans City Council the authority to put before the voters of this city an additional ad valorem tax for fire protection and police protection, each not to exceed an additional five mills. This November, this constitutional amendment would need to pass statewide and in Orleans Parish in order to move forward.
STREAMLINING COURTS (SB 445, Sen. Crowe)
Mayor Landrieu worked in partnership with Orleans Delegation on the streamlining of the City’s court systems. Senate Bill 445 provides for the elimination of two judges from the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court through retirement, resignation or attrition. By right sizing the court, the City General Fund can save $1.12 million per year and $2.15 million will be saved in additional capital costs. The goal of streamlining is to save taxpayer money that can be reinvested in juvenile services.
CASINO SUPPORT SERVICES (ACT 167, Rep. Leger)
The City was able to establish a stable and sustainable method to receive its legally obligated reimbursement from the State for the direct and indirect expenses it incurs to support Harrah’s Casino, including fire, police, EMS, and sanitation. This legislation has been signed into law by the Governor and provides a long term, sustainable means for the State to honor its obligation so the City no longer has to haggle each year for this reimbursement in the State budget. Under the bill, the City recommends dedicating this $3.6 million appropriation to public safety.
REORGANIZING NOPD RESOURCES (HB 940, Rep. Neil Abramson)
Currently, NOPD Quality of Life officers issue summonses for sanitation and public nuisance violations. This bill changes State law to allow the City Council to adopt an ordinance listing what offenses are subject to administrative fines paid to the City and would give Code Enforcement and/or Downtown Development District Sanitation Rangers the authority to issue the citations. This allows NOPD officers to focus on more serious issues.
FIREFIGHTER PENSION REFORM (HB 94, Rep. Leger)
In 2013, the State Legislature passed modest reforms to the Firefighter Pension Board. While the reforms are a step in the right direction, there was more work to be done. This year, the City and the Firefighter Pension Board worked in partnership with New Orleans Firefighters Pension Fund to pass this bill, which raises the minimum retirement age from 50 to 52 for new hires (hired after January 1, 2015).
STRENGTHENING BLIGHT POLICY (HB 339, Rep. Leger)
Earlier this year, Mayor Landrieu proposed and the City Council approved revisions to the City Code to strengthen the City’s enforcement capabilities on nuisance, overgrown lots and to accelerate the abatement process. Building on these revisions, this bill aligns State and City law in order to continue the momentum of Mayor Landrieu’s on-going and aggressive commitment to reducing blight throughout the city.
CAPITAL OUTLAY PROJECTS
This year, the City had several successful capital outlay priorities including funding for a new state-of-the-art fire station that combines Engines 33 and 40 in Algiers; funding for major upgrades to the current New Orleans Police Department Fourth District Police Station in Algiers,; funding for the addition of a pool complex to the gymnasium and sports fields at the Rosenwald Center in Central City; funding for the restoration of Richard Lee Playground in the Lower Ninth Ward and $3.5 million for Louis Armstrong International Airport's new interchange feasibility and planning.
New Orleans Airport Authority, Feasibility Study, Interchange Modification Report and Environmental Assessment
Priority 2 $ 1,500,000
Priority 5 $ 2,000,000
Total $ 3,500,000
New Station for Consolidated Engine 33/40 – Algiers
Priority 2 $ 375,000
Priority 5 $ 1,625,000
Total $ 2,000,000
New Fourth District Police Station
Priority 1 $ 300,000
Historic Algiers Courthouse Renovation
Priority 1 $ 125,000
Milne Boys Home Natatorium - Gentilly Development District
Priority 1 $ 365,000
Rosenwald Pool and Pool House
Priority 1 $ 390,000
Priority 2 $ 200,000
Priority 5 $ 1,400,000
Total $ $ 1,990,000