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BGR In The News

City Council ‘didn’t care until everything went south’ at S&WB: J.P. Morrell

Aug 17, 2017

The (S&WB) board of directors was reduced from 13 to 11 members, council members lost their three seats and new members had to be nominated by local university presidents. The moves had support from the nonpartisan watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research and the New Orleans Business Council.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Peter Reichard shares the Bureau of Governmental Research’s new study calling for a drainage fee

Mar 6, 2017

Federal money will pay to further improve canals and pumping stations. But the city has to contribute a percentage, and it has to pay for upkeep. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research has released a new study calling for a fee on stormwater drainage to fill that gap.

Source: WWNO

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

New Orleans Voters to Decide Millages, Criminal Court Judge Post

Dec 9, 2016

And – with Proposition 2 — voters are deciding on establishing a 12-year tax dedicated to the fire department. Funds would settle a dispute that’s gone on for decades over back pay. Officials say it’ll cost the average homeowner about $50 a year. The non-profit Bureau of Governmental Research is recommending both propositions be approved.

Source: WWNO

Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans makes final pitch for drainage-tax renewal before election

Dec 2, 2016

Becker noted, they join endorsements from the Bureau of Governmental Research as well as the Times-Picayune, The Advocate and Gambit newspapers.

Source: Uptown Messenger

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 to decide on drainage tax renewal Dec. 10

Nov 25, 2016

The BGR report noted that the money the S&WB brings in for drainage work is largely consumed by operational costs and paying back loans. As a result, about $50 million worth of work had to be deferred in 2016 because not enough money was available.

Source: The Advocate

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

Zurik: S&WB overtime spewing out of control

Apr 29, 2015

“To have overtime at these rates just is a red flag that something needs to be evaluated,” said Bureau of Governmental Research executive director Janet Howard.

Source: FOX 8

Orleans water board is seeking green, low-tech solutions, director says

Nov 21, 2014

“By the time (my) term is over, there will be no dysfunction,” Grant told several dozen people at a breakfast meeting held by the Bureau of Governmental Research. “There will be accountability and progress.”

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans’ water pipes, public buildings, street repairs could be in this man’s hands

Aug 19, 2014

The government watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research cautioned against merging the Sewerage & Water Board and City Hall three years ago out of concern that Landrieu already had too much on his plate and that such a move could increase the pressure of city politics on the agency and its contractors.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Mayor Landrieu nominates new slate of water board members

May 1, 2014

Good government groups like the Bureau of Governmental Research had been pushing for the change in order to strip politics out of board decisions.

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans’ Sewerage & Water Board needs dedicated, skilled board members: Editorial

Jan 8, 2014

As the Bureau of Governmental Research put it last week in an appeal to the public, “To reinvigorate the agency, some of the city’s sharpest minds and most effective leaders must offer to serve.”

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

Mayor Landrieu deputy will lead city water agency

Dec 19, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research called for the search process to be put off until the new board is seated, a position reiterated Wednesday by City Councilwoman Stacy Head, who sits on the board.

Source: The Advocate

N.O. S&WB search for top executive turns inward

Dec 1, 2013

Several people and organizations that monitor the board’s activities, including Councilwoman Stacy Head and the watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research, have asked that the appointment be delayed until the new board is in place. But the search committee has continued to look to replace St. Martin as soon as possible.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant, S&WB top staff among applicants for water board executive director

Nov 5, 2013

The government watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research has asked the S&WB to delay its choice until the new board members are appointed, considering the new director must report to them. So far, BGR’s request has fallen on deaf ears.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Voters approve charter changes; judge runoffs set

Oct 21, 2013

Supporters of the amendment, such as the Bureau of Governmental Research and the New Orleans Business Council, said they hope the changes will help remove politics from board decisions and make it better prepared to tackle the major challenges facing the water agency.

Source: The Advocate

N.O. voters approve Sewerage & Water Board reforms

Oct 19, 2013

The S&WB reform package, supported by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, did draw attention, with a media blitz by supporters of the reforms, including the Business Council and other civic groups. The Bureau of Governmental Research also backed the plan.

Source: WWL-TV

Major changes to Sewerage & Water Board on Saturday’s ballot

Oct 16, 2013

“The infrastructure has been in terrible condition. There’s huge investment coming this way,” said Janet Howard with the Bureau of Governmental Research. Howard said as Orleans Parish gears up to spend billions of dollars to improve its sewerage and water systems, how the board is governed also needs to be revamped.

Source: WWL-TV

New Orleans S&WB City Charter change attracts political opposition

Oct 11, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a non-partisan watchdog group, and the New Orleans Business Council have both thrown their support behind the changes. “The charter amendment, and the companion legislation that would take effect if it passes, present a critical opportunity for New Orleanians to reduce political influence on the S&WB’s board, establish a process for vetting future board members and make the board more accountable,” BGR said in a statement.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Voters to decide S&WB overhaul

Oct 8, 2013

Soon, voters will decide whether the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board should be overhauled. “It’s overly politicized,” said Janet Howard, president of the Bureau of Governmental Research.“Right now, we have a mayor and three council members on the board.”

Source: FOX 8

Orleans voters will decide Oct. 19 on two City Charter amendments

Oct 7, 2013

The nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research, which has been critical of the water board’s past governance practices, has endorsed the charter amendment, saying it “would lay the foundation” for creating a “well-qualified, high-functioning board” that could tackle the major challenges facing the water board.

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans S&WB hires search firm; on track to hire new chief executive by end of 2013

Aug 21, 2013

The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board stayed true Wednesday to a promise from its president, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, that the search for a new executive director will go on despite the reservations of a government watchdog group, the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

BGR urges water board to delay director search

Aug 21, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research sent out a letter Tuesday urging the Sewerage & Water Board to delay its search for a new executive director until after city residents vote on a charter amendment that could result in a new board being seated by January.

Source: The Advocate

One month before citizens vote to change board, SW&B board could choose new director

Aug 20, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research is urging the Orleans Parish Sewerage & Water Board to delay its search for a new executive director. The group is arguing that it makes no sense for the current board, which may not be in place much longer, to hire the new director.

Source: WWL-TV

BGR wants delay in search for Sewerage and Water Board leader

Aug 20, 2013

BGR notes that a vote in October could shake up the way the board is put together. Therefore, it wants the selection process to be put on hold until after the vote.

Source: FOX 8

BGR: the New Orleans S&WB should delay its search for a new executive director

Aug 20, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research advised that the water board wait until New Orleans voters rule on the reforms that will appear on the Oct. 19 special election ballot before selecting a successor to outgoing Executive Director Marcia St. Martin.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Group says water board’s woes unlikely to improve soon

Jul 23, 2013

It’s the fifth time in the past three years that New Orleans residents have had to boil their water because of a pressure failure. Watchdog group BGR, says it’s a problem unlikely to improve anytime soon, even with significant rate increases over the next few years

Source: WWL-TV

BGR says water issues won’t be adequately addressed by millage increase

Jul 23, 2013

But the Bureau of Governmental Research takes a different spin. “The part getting the least amount of investment is the water system and that’s the part that drives everybody crazy,” said Janet Howard, with BGR.

Source: FOX 8

Da winnas & da loozas

Jun 7, 2013

The final S&WB reform bill more closely resembles the recommendations of the Bureau of Governmental Research than the bill Landrieu pushed.

Source: Gambit Weekly

Sewerage and Water Board overhaul approved by Legislature, not exactly as Landrieu envisioned

Jun 6, 2013

At one point in the Legislative process, the bill would have allowed (the mayor) to reject the list of nominations made by that council. But that element, which was opposed by the Bureau of Governmental Research, was eliminated in the final bill.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board overhaul bill goes back to giving mayor’s office control

May 22, 2013

The mayor would be able to decline any of the selection committee’s nominees, at which point the committee would have to reconvene to come up with additional names. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a think tank, has pushed against providing this veto power, arguing it could sway the committee to nominate only those the mayor wanted and could politicize the process.

Source: The Times-Picayune

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

May 15, 2013

Source: WWL

New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board looking down the road at a new drainage fee

May 13, 2013

Raftelis has been analyzing the water board’s policies and plans for various stakeholders for more than a decade. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a private watchdog group that has been advising the S&WB about reforming its governance structure, hired the firm in 2002 to review ill-fated plans to privatize the S&WB.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Sewerage & Water Board asks firm to research new fee to fund drainage projects

May 8, 2013

A December 2012 report by the Bureau of Governmental Research noted that the sewer and water rate increase “would cover only a portion of the S&WB’s capital needs. The new revenue could not be used to address drainage system needs,” estimated at $356 million over eight years.

Source: The Lens

Amendments to S&WB reform package cut mayoral veto, add New Orleans City Council appointees

May 8, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group that advised the mayor and the S&WB on the reforms, objected to the veto clause last month, expressing concern that it would give the mayor the ability to pack the board with hand-picked members.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Lee Zurik Investigation: S&WB’s overtime policy means millions down the drain

May 1, 2013

“To have overtime at these rates just is a red flag that something needs to be evaluated,” said Janet Howard, head of the Bureau of Governmental Research, in our 2010 report. She called the overtime payments a huge waste of resources.

Source: Fox 8

BGR Worries About Mayor’s Veto On Sewerage Board Reforms

Apr 30, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research is backing most of the mayor’s effort to reform the sewer and water board.

But not the veto power.

Source: WWNO

Reform bill doesn’t go far enough to curb political power over S&WB, BGR says

Apr 26, 2013

As the Legislature takes up long-awaited changes meant to attenuate political influence on the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, one government watchdog group said the changes don’t go far enough.

Source: The Times-Picayune

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

Mayor wants lawmakers to focus on reform, infrastructure at legislative session

Apr 3, 2013

On Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu looked ahead to the legislative session when he spoke at a special Bureau of Governmental Research breakfast briefing.

Source: WWL-TV

S&WB should end practice of giving free water to public agencies, Stacy Head suggests

Mar 5, 2013

While the free water allows agencies to invest more in the services they provide the public, the giveaway fails to encourage conservation and it lets the S&WB mask the true cost of delivering its product, said Janet Howard, executive director of the watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: The Times-Picayune

History of problems lead up to boil water advisory

Mar 4, 2013

The budget watchdog organization Bureau of Governmental Research also studied the problems at the Sewerage and Water Board.
It concluded that systemic problems there are rooted in a history of underfunding.

Source: WWL-TV

Innovative Thinking On the Elements

Mar 1, 2013

Waggonner spoke recently at a briefing convened by the Bureau of Governmental Research on the future of stormwater management in the city. Since Hurricane Katrina, he’s been a leading advocate for solutions similar to those used in the famously flood-prone Netherlands.

Source: New Orleans Magazine

Sewerage & Water Board members shouldn’t try to weaken reforms: Editorial

Feb 8, 2013

As recommended by the Bureau of Governmental Research, the mayor’s plan is to require that board members have expertise related to the board’s work such as engineering or accounting. That is an essential change. The S&WB deals with highly complicated issues and large budgets, and the board ought to collectively have the education and training to best handle those decisions.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans needs new approach to water management

Jan 10, 2013

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group that had birddogged the Sewerage & Water Board to improve its way of doing business, sponsored Thursday’s presentation.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Business calendar for the week of Dec. 24

Dec 21, 2012

BUREAU OF GOVERNMENTAL RESEARCH: Joseph Becker, general superintendent for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, and David Waggonner, team leader for Greater New Orleans Water Management Strategy, will discuss the S&WB’s current plans for drainage and an alternate vision for water management based on a Dutch report.

Source: The Times-Picayune

S&WB work is an investment in New Orleans’ future: Editorial

Dec 14, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research, which came out in support of the rate hikes, notes that roughly 31 percent of the rate increase — $181 million — will go to operating and maintenance costs. The S&WB lacks a comprehensive plan for spending that operational money, BGR said, and needs to explain to ratepayers specifically how the money will be used. That should be done.

Source: The Times-Picayune

S&WB rate hikes

Dec 11, 2012

Even BGR President Janet Howard, who supported the increases overall, expressed some doubt about how the money will be used.

Source: Gambit

City Council passes water rate increases

Dec 7, 2012

The rate increase was supported by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR), the hotel and lodging industry and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

Source: Gambit Online

Sewerage Board details plan to double bills over 8 years

Dec 6, 2012

While the BGR supports the increase, it noted in a new report that less than half of that money would go toward capital projects, while about $242 million will go toward the day-to-day operations.

Source: The Advocate

New Orleans Council Considering Major Rate Hike For Sewerage and Water Board

Dec 6, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research says it supports the rate hike, as long as it’s properly supervised.

Source: WWNO

Bureau of Governmental Research supports S&WB rate increases

Dec 5, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research supports the Sewerage and Water Board’s proposed rate increase due to chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance, damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and deteriorating financial conditions, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Source: WWL-TV

BGR supports New Orleans water bill hikes, but calls for more info

Dec 5, 2012

Should the New Orleans City Council approve the Sewerage & Water Board’s plan to double the rates it charges its customers, less than half of the expected $583 million in new money will go to the water board’s crumbling infrastructure, according to a new report released Wednesday by the watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Rebuild New Orleans’ sewer, water systems and create jobs: Mitch Landrieu and Raymond Manning

Dec 5, 2012

Politics and delays created this crisis in the first place. As a Bureau of Governmental Research report put it: “Over the past few decades, the City Council has on multiple occasions delayed or killed rate increases, despite the S&WB’s pressing needs.”

Source: The Times-Picayune

Water board details spending plan as rate hike vote looms

Dec 5, 2012

The BGR report compared New Orleans’ rates with those in three cities. Charleston, Cincinnati and Louisville pay higher rates than New Orleans today and, except for Louisville, would still have higher rates in 2020 after the 10 percent annual increments in New Orleans kick in fully, the report estimated.

Source: The Lens

New Orleans City Council is next, possibly last, step for sewer, water rate increase

Dec 5, 2012

A report from the Bureau of Governmental Research released Wednesday differed from Miller’s calculations, but came to the same end. “The conclusion of the research is inescapable that the proposed rate increases are necessary,” BGR Executive Director Janet Howard told the Budget Committee.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Mayor Landrieu has harsh words for council president on S&WB rate increase

Dec 5, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research released a report Wednesday, supporting the rate increase proposal, but the report questioned why there’s no detailed plan for 40 percent of the money that would be collected, that’s allocated for operations and maintenance projects.

Source: Fox 8

Landrieu calls water board rate increase vote most important in years

Dec 5, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research says they support the rate increase, but also say there must be follow-through proposed changes to how the water board is governed.

Source: WWL-TV

No clear answers on what city water rate increase would pay for

Dec 4, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonpartisan research group, hasn’t been able to get clear answers either from the sewer and water agency. The nonpartisan research group, which has lamented the agency’s “dysfunctional governance,” will release a report Wednesday morning with its best estimate of how the money would be spent.

Source: The Lens

Rush to approve New Orleans water rate hike proposal stirs up a hornets’ nest

Dec 4, 2012

Asking for more time to publicly discuss a $583 million proposal that would double average sewer and water rates over the next eight years, Head and the Bureau of Governmental Research want to delay the council’s final vote, scheduled for Thursday.

Source: The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board president calls for rate hike vote to go forward

Dec 4, 2012

Head, one of two council members who also serve on the S&WB, asked her colleagues Monday to put off voting the sewer and water rate increases that appear on the council’s Thursday agenda. Her concerns were shared by the Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group that offered its own recommendations for reform of the century-old water board.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Stacy Head, BGR concerned about speedy City Council vote on higher water bills

Dec 3, 2012

“The public doesn’t know that the council is considering doubling their rates on Thursday,” BGR Executive Director Janet Howard said. “My recommendation would be that they not act on this Thursday, but have a proper and adequate notice of a hearing” for the public.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Council president seeks delay of vote on huge water-rate increase

Dec 3, 2012

“The council should hold a well-publicized public hearing,” Howard said. “The public deserves an opportunity to comment on something that affects them. A deferral request makes all the sense in the world, regardless of what you think about the proposal. There is a transparency problem.”

Source: The Lens

Our Views: A practical cost of political delay

Nov 30, 2012

There is good reason to make some governance changes. Having three members of the City Council on the large existing S&WB governing body has inhibited the politically difficult process of raising rates to fix the pipes. A smaller body with shorter terms could be more effective, although no one who has looked at the issues — including citizens committees and officials, and the Bureau of Governmental Research — believes that savings could avert rate increases.

Source: The Advocate

Mayor Mitch Landrieu proposes cutting City Council members from Sewerage & Water Board

Nov 13, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group, has advised the board to excise all elected officials, including the mayor.

Source: Nola.com

Mayor Mitch Landrieu on water board reform: Cut politics, build trust, then raise rates

Nov 13, 2012

One group, the Bureau of Governmental Research, has advised the board to remove all elected officials, including the mayor. Executive Director Janet Howard said Tuesday that BGR appreciated that Landrieu included many of its recommendations in his proposal, but added that the plan warrants closer study.

Source: Nola.com

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

New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board to consider removing City Council members from its ranks

Nov 9, 2012

Schornstein’s proposal didn’t cut as deeply as some watchdog groups would have liked. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit group called in to advise the board on the rate hikes, wanted all elected officials removed from the board, including the mayor.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Mayor Landrieu plans to revamp 11 New Orleans boards and commissions

Oct 24, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research and the Citizen Sewer, Water and Drainage System Reform Task Force, a group of organized by banker and former water board member Gary Solomon, want the board to remove elected officials from the board, including three City Council members and the mayor, reducing its appointed seats from 13 to nine.

Source: Nola.com

Sewerage rate hikes? BGR says take politics out of S&WB Operations

Oct 22, 2012

Prior to last week’s board meeting, the Bureau of Governmental Research sent a letter calling for delay of the full rate hike until the board — along with (the) city and the state — “fix the way [S&WB] is governed and the way it operates,” the letter reads.

Source: Gambit Online

Sewerage and Water Board sends price hike plan to mayor’s desk

Oct 17, 2012

“When you ask for a billion dollars there is also an essential need to correct the problem that led to that in the first place,” Janet Howard, president of the Bureau of Governmental Research, told the board on Wednesday.

Source: Nola.com

S&WB sends 10 percent rate hike plan to mayor

Oct 17, 2012

“There are fundamental problems with the structure of the board, the way it’s regulated and rate increases,” said Janet Howard with the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Source: Fox 8

Flush problem leadership from S&WB

Oct 17, 2012

So to argue that a dramatic overhaul is needed for the governance of the S&WB is not an indictment of the people who put forth a valiant effort to provide the city with basic services. It is, as the Bureau of Governmental Research points out in a report released this week, simply a call to realign the leadership and scope of their responsibilities if ratepayers are going to bear the cost of a system upgrade.

Source: CityBusiness

Sewerage & Water Board urged to reform before voting on rate hikes

Oct 16, 2012

In an effort to influence the Sewerage & Water Board’s vote on the latest rate hike proposal, the Bureau of Government Research issued a statement Tuesday suggesting that the board is dealing with its issues in backwards order: Before it decides on a drastic price hike, it needs to address the “dysfunctional governance” that led to the need for one in the first place, the watchdog organization urged.

Source: Nola.com

Government watchdog group: Limit S&WB rate hikes until reforms occur

Oct 16, 2012

The Bureau of Governmental Research is asking the Sewerage and Water Board to delay and limit proposed rate increases until the board, along with city and state government, “fix the way [S&WB] is governed and the way it operates,” reads a report released today.

Source: Gambit Online

Boil-water advisory delay baffles New Orleans residents

Oct 8, 2012

“If the risks are serious enough to justify a boil-water advisory, it’s hard to understand how they can wait three-and-a-half hours to issue it,” said Janet Howard, executive director of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a government watchdog group studying the S&WB. “They really need to examine their communication policy.”

Source: The Times-Picayune

Questions surround legality of S&WB vote on millage rate

Sep 27, 2012

Janet Howard heads the Bureau of Governmental Research. She says the board may have violated open meetings laws because there’s no mention on the meeting agenda that a vote would take place on rolling the millage forward.

Source: Fox 8

New Orleans water and sewer rate would rise more slowly under latest staff proposal

Sep 20, 2012

Three members of the City Council also sit on the S&WB. To pass a rate increase, those members must first vote to send the proposed changes to the full council. Then, as council members, they must vote to approve the increases. In the past, those members have approved sending the increases to the council, then killed them.

It’s a governmental Catch-22 that has several groups, including the Bureau of Governmental Research, calling for the ouster of elected officials from the board.

Source: The Times-Picayune

Orleans Parish residents could pay more on water bills

Sep 19, 2012

Janet Howard with the Bureau of Governmental Research says she can’t believe there was no public input on the matter, saying, “To me, the really serious issue is not letting the public know that you’re taking an action on a matter that directly affects their pocketbooks like that.”

Source: Fox 8

Business leaders want S&WB rate increase tied to management changes

Jul 23, 2012

The budget watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research said with three council members on the water board, the agency is too political.

“One of the ways we’ve gotten in the trouble we’re in with all the deferred maintenance is because of the reluctance of elected officials to raise rates,” said BGR President and CEO Janet Howard.

Source: WWL-TV

Mitch Landrieu asks S&WB to address key issues regarding rate increase

Jul 18, 2012

“I agree with the S&WB’s expert consultants, the citizen’s task force, the Bureau of Governmental Research and others: A rate increase is necessary and inevitable,” Landrieu writes, referring to independent groups that have weighed in on the revenue jumps.

Source: The Times-Picayune

N.O. businesses wary of proposed sewerage and water rate hikes

Jul 17, 2012

In his letter to the Sewerage & Water Board, Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote, “I agree with the S&WB’s expert consultants, the citizen’s task force, the Bureau of Governmental Research and others: a rate increase of some kind is necessary and inevitable.”

Source: WWL-TV

Lee Zurik Investigation: S&WB ratepayers funding exec’s $1M retirement plan

Feb 22, 2012

“It is a very significant, very generous arrangement compared to what most people in the private sector, who are actually paying a lot of the bills, are able to get themselves,” says Janet Howard, who heads the Bureau of Governmental Research, a non-profit research group. BGR has spent more than a year looking at retirement systems in the metro area and expects to release a comprehensive report in the spring.

Source: Fox 8

Sewerage & Water Board schedules public meetings over rate increase plan

Jan 20, 2012

In an October report, the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit policy research organization in New Orleans, recommended removing elected officials from the board and giving the board authority to increase water and sewerage rates by an indexed amount annually, citing that local politics have long interfered with needed rate increases.

Source: CityBusiness

BGR: Sewerage and Water Board needs more cash, fewer politicians

Oct 28, 2011

The beleaguered Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans needs the power to increase water and sewerage rates annually and fewer politicians controlling its activity in order to aptly tackle billions of dollars in city infrastructure improvements, according to a report the Bureau of Governmental Research released today.

Source: CityBusiness

New report calls for massive overhaul of S&WB

Oct 26, 2011

A new report calls for drastic measures to improve the crumbling sewer and water services in the city, including removing elected members from the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board and giving the agency more control over its own finances.

Source: WWLTV

Study: Aging, leaky water system difficult to plug

Oct 26, 2011

The system needs billions of dollars in repairs and improvements, said the Bureau of Governmental Research, which noted that the city’s Sewerage and Water Board can’t bill people for an estimated 75 percent of the water it treats, mostly because that water is lost to leaks.

Source: Associated Press

New Orleans S&WB is an aging, leaky water system that needs help, group says

Oct 26, 2011

A report issued Tuesday by the Bureau of Governmental Research is the first of two to be released by good-government groups in the coming weeks. The Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region will also make governance recommendations in response to a request from Mayor Mitch Landrieu for an outside review of the agency’s finances and management.

Source: The Times-Picayune

BGR: Sewerage and Water Board needs more cash, fewer politicians

Oct 26, 2011

The beleaguered Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans needs the power to increase water and sewerage rates annually and fewer politicians controlling its activity in order to aptly tackle billions of dollars in city infrastructure improvements, according to a report the Bureau of Governmental Research released today.

Source: New Orleans City Business

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