In The News › Sources: Unpaid furlough for city workers could be part of N.O. budget cutting

Oct 26, 2009

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: City Government, Government Finance, Orleans Parish

Sources: Unpaid furlough for city workers could be part of N.O. budget cutting

Monday, October 26, 2009
By Maya Rodriguez, Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS – City workers could face a possible 12-day, unpaid furlough as part of a way to bridge an expected $68 million budget deficit in the upcoming year, according to sources.

The budget process is expected to be anything but simple. Mayor Ray Nagin is set to present his budget to the City Council on Friday. However, on Monday, his office held staff meetings to update them on the process and possible changes because of the shortfall. The $68 million shortfall could be cut down to $12 million, depending on what cuts are put in place.

The meeting was closed to the media, but sources tell Eyewitness News one of the possible changes could include the 12-day furlough that could save the city about $4.6 million. Aside from the staff, though, some city council members are hoping the public will make major effort to get involved in this year’s budget process.

“We need the public to be engaged and attending the hearings, being made aware of the issues that are at hand and the kind of decisions that we’ll be having to make over the next month and what the consequences of those decision will be,” said City Council Member Shelley Midura, who represents District A.

The budget discussions could include changes to city services and contracts, like those affecting sanitation and trash pick-up. Council members Midura and Stacy Head will be holding a town hall meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in council chambers, as part of a public outreach effort about the budget. It is something that Midura said cities, like Philadelphia, do on a larger scale with their residents during budget time.

“There was a real engagement of the public as a community, of trying to solve the problem,” Midura said. “I think that’s what we need to see in New Orleans and this is a first step toward that. But it definitely will require more time in the future and a longer advanced process.”

As it stands now, the City Council will have only 30 days for budget hearings. A recent report by the Office of Inspector General criticized the city’s budget process, saying it fails to provide enough specifics on how millions of dollars are spent.

“I think there are a lot of problems with the budget process, one of which is they really haven’t been doing a capital plan as required by the charter,” said Janet Howard, with the Bureau of Governmental Research. “It needs a lot of work to make it transparent and understandable.”

There is a City Council budget committee meeting on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the council chambers. On the agenda is a discussion of the budget process and the Inspector General’s Office report on the city’s budget process.

Oct 26, 2009

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: City Government, Government Finance, Orleans Parish

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