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BGR In The News

Amid strong opposition from city employees, Stacy Head pulls plan to reform pension system

Apr 27, 2017

The heavy criticism was a blow for Head, whose years of efforts to revamp the pension system resulted in a reform plan that included some recommendations from the pension system’s board, some from the nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research and some from her own research.

Source: The Advocate

Stacy Head: Why we need municipal employee pension reform now

Apr 20, 2017

The reforms I am proposing are based on years of research and comparisons with other governments and recommendations by the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: The Advocate

Councilwoman Stacy Head proposes money-saving changes to city retirement system

Mar 7, 2017

Head’s proposal, which draws from some of the recommendations in a report by the nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research last year, has the support of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region.

Source: The Advocate

Our Views: Support Orleans, Jeff taxes

Dec 10, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that studies public policy issues in the New Orleans area, has endorsed all of the taxes.

Source: The Advocate

Early voting begins Saturday for December election

Nov 25, 2016

The city says the tax would yield an estimated $8.9 million a year to help pay settlement costs for the tens of millions of dollars in legal judgments it owes to firefighters and their pension fund. The Bureau of Governmental Research has endorsed the tax proposal.

Source: WWL-TV

New Orleans voters consider fire, drainage taxes on Dec. 10 ballot

Nov 25, 2016

Without a new revenue source — in addition to the millage up for renewal — New Orleans’ deferred drainage work could exceed $270 million by 2020, BGR says.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

‘Yes’ on firefighter and drainage taxes for New Orleans: Editorial

Nov 20, 2016

The Sewerage & Water Board already lacks money for its capital improvement program, and the agency soon will be on the hook for additional expenses, according to BGR.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

BGR backs both New Orleans property tax items on Dec. 10 ballot

Nov 16, 2016

Absent any additional revenue sources, BGR says keeping the drainage property tax in place is advantageous because it is established and voters understand the assessment and collection process.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Watchdog group endorses New Orleans fire and drainage taxes on December ballot

Nov 15, 2016

A leading government watchdog group is supporting two property tax measures on the Dec. 10 ballot in New Orleans, a new tax designed to pay for a settlement between the city and firefighters and a tax renewal to pay for drainage. The nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research gave both taxes the thumbs up in a report issued Tuesday.

Source: The Advocate

BGR urges changes to New Orleans area public pension plans to control costs

Oct 20, 2016

In New Orleans, which is hampered by the outsized tab to cover its struggling firefighters’ retirement plan, the city will spend nearly $106 million on pension costs in 2016, the report said, which eats up 16 cents of every $1 in the city’s general fund.

Source: The Advocate

Our Views: Vote for tax plan in Saturday’s city election

Apr 9, 2016

We share some of the reservations of the Bureau of Governmental Research, www.bgr.org, about long-term bond issues for street repairs that might last, at best, for the length of the bond payments. Still, BGR is for the bond issue because of the “abysmal” condition of New Orleans streets.

Source: The Advocate

Next steps after New Orleans voters reject tax increase for police expansion, firefighters?

Apr 9, 2016

Residents throughout the city were skeptical of providing more funding to the NOPD, even as groups such as the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region and public employee unions came out in favor of the plan.

Source: The Advocate

To Pay First Responders, New Orleans Heads To Polls

Apr 8, 2016

This Saturday New Orleanians will have a chance to vote on new taxes intended to improve public safety and settle long-standing debts to the fire department. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research issued a report on the vote, saying the increases are needed, lest other programs be cut.

Source: WWNO

Our Views: Vote for tax plan in Saturday’s city election

Apr 8, 2016

We share some of the reservations of the Bureau of Governmental Research, www.bgr.org, about long-term bond issues for street repairs that might last, at best, for the length of the bond payments.

Source: The Advocate

Separate questions deserve a separate vote

Apr 4, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research notes that putting the two taxes together “may complicate the decision-making process.”

Source: Mid-City Messenger

City seeks more taxes on April 9

Apr 4, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research, which had opposed the 2015 new library tax and other millage increases in recent years, endorsed the 7.5 mills for police and fire.

Source: Louisiana Weekly

Editorial: It takes a millage

Mar 28, 2016

“Approval of the tax would represent a major commitment by taxpayers to give the troubled Police Department the resources necessary to rebuild its ranks, reduce response times and provide better public safety outcomes,” the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) wrote in its endorsement of the millage. The BGR cautioned, however, that the City Council would have to play watchdog to make sure benchmarks are met. We agree.

Source: Gambit

Tax increase could end decades of disputes over New Orleans firefighters’ pay, pensions

Mar 26, 2016

In addition to Landrieu and the firefighters, the millage increases have been endorsed by other labor unions, the nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research and two high-profile business groups, Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region.

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans public employee unions back proposed tax hike for police, fire

Mar 23, 2016

The property tax increase has also received the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Bureau of Governmental Research, Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region. So far, no organized opposition to the measure has emerged.

Source: The Advocate

Business groups endorse proposed tax hike for public safety in New Orleans

Mar 22, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research and the New Orleans chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police also have endorsed the millage hike. So far, no organized opposition to the measure has emerged.

Source: The Advocate

Our Views: We support New Orleans fire, police tax

Mar 20, 2016

But the Bureau of Governmental Research, which is backing the proposition, notes that there is little research supporting the notion that 1,600 is the ideal size.

Source: The Advocate

‘Yes’ for more money for New Orleans police, firefighters and streets: Editorial

Mar 20, 2016

According to the Bureau of Governmental Research, which is supporting the increase, the owner of a $350,000 home would pay an additional $262.50 in taxes each year. That is less than $22 per month.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Government watchdog endorses $120M bond proposal, 7.5 mill public safety tax hike

Mar 18, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research this week endorsed a pair of ballot initiatives that would permit the city to issue $120 million in bonds and raise property taxes dedicated to public safety by a combined 7.5 mills, generating about $26.6 million annually.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Two April 9th Tax Proposals Deserve Public Support

Mar 17, 2016

Even the generally tax-averse Bureau of Governmental Research called the streets and capital improvements proposal a “more holistic approach.”

Source: Uptown Messenger

Proposed tax hike in New Orleans for police, fire departments would be ‘major commitment’

Mar 16, 2016

“The City Council and administration must hold the NOPD accountable for achieving its goals and carefully calibrate funding to the department’s true needs,” the report says. “The goals should include increasing the number of officers assigned to calls for service.”

Source: The Advocate

BGR supports April 9 tax vote for N.O. police, fire, street repairs

Mar 16, 2016

The Bureau of Governmental Research has come out in support of two tax proposals on the April 9 ballot in New Orleans, one to increase funding for police and firefighters, the other to pay for street repairs and other improvements.

Source: WWL-TV

Effective management and saving money are key if New Orleans is continue with its strong budgets

Jul 16, 2015

A BGR research study last year described in fuller detail the mayor’s battles with the long-troubled Firefighters’ Pension and Relief Funds. “Poor investments, market misfortunes, an ill-advised financing scheme, underfunding, judgments and excessive generosity have combined to create a crushing burden,” BGR said.

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans firefighters are inflating pension benefits, Landrieu administration alleges

Apr 25, 2015

(City Finance Director) Norman Foster said that he and other members of the administration did not become fully aware of the pension calculation issue until the Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog think tank, discovered it in 2013 and brought it to his attention.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Amid rising costs, New Orleans employee pension fund under pressure to trim benefits

Feb 2, 2015

But the New Orleans plan, compared to other systems, can yield unusually lavish benefits for certain kinds of employees, according to a 2012 analysis by the Bureau of Governmental Research, a local think tank. Under certain circumstances, lifelong employees can earn more in retirement than they did on the job thanks to addition of their Social Security benefit, according to the report.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Public employees’ pensions are a budget’s black hole: James Varney

Apr 22, 2014

In a report last April, the Bureau of Governmental Research, which has delved into the time bomb of New Orleans area public pensions, minced few words. “In summary, multiple factors have contributed to the high costs associated with firefighter pensions,” the BGR concluded. “Given this background, one might expect plan generosity to suffer. So far, this has not happened. The New Orleans firefighter pension plan is remarkably generous.”

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Our Views: BGR helped shape 2013

Jan 2, 2014

After a deeply partisan 2013, where will Americans find common ground in 2014?

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans firefighters make smart move to change pension management: Editorial

Sep 6, 2013

In 2012, the city owed $63.6 million for obligations related to the firefighters’ pension, which equates to 13 percent of general fund revenues, according the Bureau of Governmental Research. The massive pension costs limit what the city can spend on other vital services, including crime prevention.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

New Orleans firefighters oust leadership of long-troubled pension fund

Sep 4, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a government watchdog group, found last year that the fund had been earning only 2 percent returns on its investments, far below its 7.5 percent assumed annual rate.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Louisiana Senate approves bills to help New Orleans rein in firefighters’ pension costs

May 30, 2013

In 2000, the City Council invested $171 million in bond proceeds to shore up the pension fund, but the market tanked and the fund was saddled with the debt. BGR President Janet Howard said the proposed changes “are little steps right now, but the huge problem is going to remain,” referring to that debt. “Obviously, increasing contribution rates helps, but you’ve got a mammoth problem to deal with,” Howard said.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Firefighters disability pension costing city millions

May 25, 2013

BGR President Janet Howard called the firefighters’ pension situation “a debacle.”

Source: WWL-TV

N.O. firefighter pension fund worries La. Sen. committee as it passes compromise package of changes

May 20, 2013

The package headed to the Senate, largely crafted by New Orleans Democrat Rep. Jeff Arnold, makes tweaks to the fund’s board that are much less dramatic than those sought by the Landrieu administration and others, including the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonpartisan think tank. Both those groups have argued for putting the fund under the city’s control, something Arnold has argued would allow city officials to control both sides of the debate over how much New Orleans owes to the fund.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Lee Zurik Investigation: The retirement plan so good, it may be illegal

May 16, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research has been looking into public pension systems all over the area. They found a few others where the employer contributed the employee’s retirement contribution.

Source: Fox 8

Garland Robinette speaks with BGR’s Peter Reichard about pension funds

May 15, 2013

Source: WWL

New Orleans firefighter pension changes pass Louisiana House

May 14, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research argued that putting city in charge would have been an important step in getting the pension fund back on track, and supported New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s effort. “The bill will not get the city out of its current dilemma, but it offers hope for stopping the bleeding,” the group said in a report released last month.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans firefighter pensions need full reform: Editorial

May 8, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research, which has analyzed the pension structure and the various bills filed to revise the system, says giving the city control is the best “hope for stopping the bleeding.” Allowing the City Council to create a new pension system that absorbs the old one “offers an opportunity to create a governing board that better balances the interests of the city’s taxpayers and firefighters, and to dial back the system’s excessively generous benefit structure,” BGR said in a report last week.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Firefighters’ pension fund

May 6, 2013

 There’s no disputing that the local firefighters retirement fund is in financial straits. It has $500 million in liabilities and only $200 million in assets. A combination of bad investments, liberal benefits, questionable decisions by the pension board as well as past mayors and inadequate contributions (from the city as well as firefighters) have made the fund “a massive burden on the city’s budget,” according to a recent analysis by the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: Gambit

Bid to turn firefighters’ pension system over to city of New Orleans fails in La. House committee

May 2, 2013

Bringing the pension fund under the city’s control was the focus of a report released earlier this week by the Bureau of Governmental Research, a non-profit think tank.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Lee Zurik Investigation: ‘Playing With Fire’ prompts legislative backlash

May 2, 2013

This week, the non-profit group Bureau of Governmental Research came out in support of the bill that would hand over control to the city.

Source: Fox 8

Lawmakers should let the city oversee New Orleans firefighter pensions: Editorial

May 2, 2013

With competing legislation pending on New Orleans firefighter retirement benefits, the Bureau of Governmental Research is calling on lawmakers to give the city control over the troubled pension system. That is what House Bill 52 sponsored by Rep. Kevin Pearson would accomplish. The bill would allow the City Council to establish a new firefighter retirement system that would assume the assets of the current system. The city could create a new governing board, increase the amount firefighters pay toward their retirement and start to rein in expenses

The House Retirement Committee, which has HB52 on its agenda for Thursday (May 2), ought to approve it and send the legislation to the full House.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Tension over the firefighter pension

May 1, 2013

Source: WWL-TV

Watchdog urges state lawmakers to bring New Orleans’ firefighters’ pension fund under local control

Apr 30, 2013

A government watchdog group is calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation that would bring the city’s beleaguered pension fund for firefighters under local control.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans firefighters, city seeking pension fund compromise

Apr 18, 2013

A recent study by the independent Bureau of Governmental Research indicates the fund is in serious financial distress.

Source: WWL-TV

N.O. Sewerage and Water Board director Marcia St. Martin says she will retire this year

Apr 17, 2013

The S&WB’s pension plan has come under fire from the Bureau of Governmental Research as well as from City Councilwoman Stacy Head for being one of the most generous in the region.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Mayor addresses Black-on-Black violence to the BGR

Apr 8, 2013

In his legislative address before the Bureau of Governmental Research, Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for an end to young male black-on-black violence. “We need to stop the killing,” the New Orleans mayor declared. “When I give this speech, people feel helpless. We’re not.”

Source: The Louisiana Weekly

Mitch Landrieu outlines city’s goals for upcoming legislative session

Apr 7, 2013

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Wednesday that his administration will ask state lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session to approve changes aimed at the Sewerage & Water Board, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court and the pension program for the New Orleans Fire Department.

Speaking at a meeting of the Bureau of Governmental Research, Landrieu said it has been too long since the city has worked to change any problems with those agencies.

Source: The Advocate

Mayor Landrieu Wants Federal Monitor to Operate City Jail

Apr 4, 2013

Mayor Landrieu told a meeting of the Bureau of Governmental Research that he wants the state to help improve the Sewerage and Water Board, reassess firefighters pensions, and restructure the juvenile justice system. He is not asking the state for changing the funding structure for the jail, as some are suggesting. After his speech, he told reporters that he acknowledges the jail has major problems.

Source: WWNO

Mayor Mitch Landrieu lays out legislative agenda; repeats criticism of OPP consent decree

Apr 3, 2013

With the prospect of having to pay millions next year to reform the city’s jail and police department, Mayor Mitch Landrieu laid out his legislative agenda Wednesday with a predictable focus on ways to cut costs and increase confidence in city government.

Source: The Times-Picayune

What do we want? Pension reform. When do we want it? Now.—James Varney

Nov 10, 2012

A spate of reports looking at the issue statewide has drawn these conclusions, and they were buttressed again last week with a report by the Bureau of Governmental Research. The BGR looked at 18 public retirement plans in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes. What it found is infuriating, if unsurprising.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Public pension funds in greater New Orleans more generous than most in US, BGR report says

Nov 9, 2012

Public pension funds in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes are more generous than in most of America, and costs to local taxpayers have been rising rapidly over the past decade, according to a study released Friday by the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: Nola.com

Election 2012: What’s on the ballot

Oct 31, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans looks at examines three of proposed constitutional amendments as well as two propositions that pertain to multiple parishes in the New Orleans area, a proposed change to the City of New Orleans charter and two local tax propositions.

Source: Nola.com

BGR President & CEO Discusses Items on the Nov. 6 Ballot

Oct 26, 2012

Source: WWL Radio

What’s on your ballot: early voting begins Tuesday across Louisiana

Oct 22, 2012

he non-partisan groups Council for a Better Louisiana, Public Affairs Research Council and Bureau of Governmental Research have analyzed and taken positions on several of the amendments and all three groups urge voters to study the amendments beforehand to minimize delays at the polls.

Source: WWL-TV

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