Reports › Orleans Parish
Analysis of government policies, finance, management, and administration
In an open letter to the Louisiana Legislature, BGR reiterates the problems with the state’s unusual nonprofit property tax exemptions. The letter explains the deficiencies in the current provisions, demonstrates their unusual status in the context of other states’ requirements and presents a template for a constitutional amendment.
In On the Ballot: New Orleans Fire and Drainage Taxes, December 10, 2016, BGR examines and takes positions on two property tax propositions: a tax increase for fire protection services and a tax renewal for the Sewerage & Water Board’s drainage system.
In Reducing the Cost of Tomorrow: A Practical Guide to Pension Reform in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany Parishes, BGR explores the changes to public pension benefits policymakers can make to reduce the costs and risks associated with the pension plans. The report is the fourth installment in a series of BGR pension reports.
In On the Ballot: New Orleans Police Monitor Charter Amendment, November 8, 2016, BGR analyzes a proposition that would allow for the permanent separation of the Independent Police Monitor from the Office of Inspector General.
In Convention Center Bill Highlights Need to Rethink Local Taxation, BGR addresses a bill that would grant taxing authority to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s economic development district. The release calls for a comprehensive re-evaluation of Orleans Parish taxes, with an eye toward aligning tax revenues with the city’s most pressing needs.
In One Plus One: The Dual Authorizer Structure and the Future of New Orleans Schools, BGR seeks to inform lawmakers and the public about the charter authorizing structure in Orleans Parish and the potential risks that accompany a diminished role for the state in charter management. (The report is the second in a series on school governance; the first, The Accidental Steward: The Orleans Parish School Board as a Resource Manager in the Reform Era, is also available on this website.)
In It’s Time for Common Sense on Nonprofit Exemptions, BGR calls on the Louisiana Legislature to address overly broad language in the state constitution that is costly to both local governments and taxpayers.
In School Board Takes a Key Step Toward Better Stewardship, BGR commends the Orleans Parish School Board for taking steps to preserve the bulk of its $45 million operating reserve for the benefit of the system as a whole. It also calls on the School Board to take additional steps to improve its financial stewardship over New Orleans’ unique public education system.
In The $1 Billion Question: Do the Tax Dedications in New Orleans Make Sense? BGR presents a comprehensive picture of where local tax dollars are going in Orleans Parish. The report provides breakdowns of tax dedications by entity and by purpose, and gives examples of problems that can arise when tax dedications are established with little planning and accountability. It also makes recommendations to help ensure existing tax revenues are deployed optimally.
In On the Ballot: Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany Parishes, November 21, 2015, BGR explains, analyzes and takes positions on two tax propositions meant to sustain west bank flood protection systems and three proposed St. Tammany charter amendments.
In It’s the Law: Land Use Decision Making and the Master Plan, BGR provides clarity to recent public dialogue over the extent to which the Master Plan has the force of law.
In On the Ballot: Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes, May 2, 2015, BGR explains, analyzes and takes positions on proposed taxes for the Orleans Parish Law Enforcement District, the New Orleans Public Library system and the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District in St. Bernard Parish.
Mar 26, 2015
This release discusses the Louisiana Supreme Court’s refusal to hear BGR’s lawsuit seeking public access to the records and meetings of a committee charged with re-assessing the number of judges needed at each of the state’s courts.
In A Trojan Horse in the Draft CZO: Article 5 Puts Years of Planning at Risk, BGR describes the article on Planned Development Standards in the draft comprehensive zoning ordinance and the problems it poses.
In this letter to the City Planning Commission, BGR focuses on Article 5 of the draft comprehensive zoning ordinance, which would allow a wide array of exceptions to the zoning rules under vague circumstances in various neighborhoods across the city. BGR argues that, as written, Article 5 creates an Achilles’ heel in the draft CZO and potentially opens the way for a return to the let’s-make-a-deal approach that has plagued land use decision making in years past.
Following the city’s announcement that it will begin a fourth Request for Proposals process to redevelop the former World Trade Center building, BGR calls for a new approach: selling the building to the highest bidder.
In this release, BGR addresses a bill that would require the regional flood protection authorities to get the governor’s approval before hiring special counsel. The change would expose the flood protection authorities to political pressure and intervention from the governor.
In this release, BGR addresses a bill that would allow the governor to unilaterally remove members of regional flood protection authorities for vague reasons. The change would expose the flood protection authorities to political pressure and intervention from the governor.
In this release, BGR addresses a bill that would move the regional flood protection authorities into the executive branch. The change would expose the flood protection authorities to political pressure and intervention from the governor.
In this release, BGR raises concerns about a bill pending in the state Senate that would weaken the critical reforms of local levee boards put in place in response to the 2005 levee failures.
In this release, BGR points out that the Supreme Court committee charged with re-assessing the number of judgeships at each of the state’s courts appears to be positioning itself to punt on the matter – at the public’s expense.
In this release, BGR encourages qualified citizens to volunteer to serve on the newly constituted Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans.
In this release, BGR calls on the Supreme Court committee that is reviewing court efficiency to conduct its work in an open and transparent manner. It also urges the committee to act in a timely fashion.
In Benchmarking the Bench: Are Public Dollars Being Wasted on Excess Judgeships in Orleans Parish? BGR presents data on the estimated need for judgeships in Orleans Parish. It also recommends steps for right-sizing the courts./files/reports/BGR_Judgeships-2013.pdf
In 3 Visions for 2 Canal Street: The Proposals to Redevelop the Former World Trade Center Site, BGR summarizes and compares the three responses to the city’s request for proposals to redevelop this important public property.
In an open letter to the Louisiana Legislature, BGR sets forth its positions on evolving legislation to reform the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans.
In this release, BGR examines a proposal to impose what amounts to a new hotel tax.
In this release, BGR discusses possible amendments to the evolving Sewerage & Water Board Reform legislation and recommends improvements.
In Sound the Alarm: New Orleans Firefighter Pension Woes and the Legislative Session, BGR examines the New Orleans Firefighter Pension and Relief Fund – which has become a major burden for the public – and relevant bills under consideration by the Legislature.
In this release, BGR discusses possible amendments to pending Sewerage & Water Board Reform legislation, and makes recommendations to protect the nominating process.
In this comment letter sent to the mayor and the New Orleans Building Corp. on Feb. 19, 2013, BGR called for improvements to NOBC’s request for proposals to redevelop the World Trade Center site.
In this release, BGR looks at Mayor Landrieu’s proposed Sewerage & Water Board governance reforms, with specific attention to the board member nomination process.
In Time to Pay the Pipelayer? The Proposed S&WB Rate Increases in Perspective, BGR reviews a proposal by the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB) to raise water and sewer rates 10% a year for the next eight years. It examines the proposed water and sewer rate increases and their impacts on customers. It also examines the proposed uses of the additional funding and how far it will go in fixing the systems’ problems.
Nov 9, 2012
In The Rising Cost of Yesterday: Metro Area Pension Costs and the Factors that Drive Them, BGR examines 18 defined benefit pension plans available to local government workers in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes (the Plans). The report tallies the costs the Plans impose on local government entities in the three parishes, and compares the pension benefits they offer to those available to private sector workers and other state and local government workers across the U.S.
In this release, BGR calls on the S&WB to limit rate increases temporarily to those that are necessary to meet its obligations under the federal consent decree that governs the sewer system. It states that additional increases should be contingent on, and adopted after, the implementation of meaningful governance reforms.
In On the Ballot: November 6, 2012, BGR examines three proposed constitutional amendments, two propositions pertaining to multiple parishes in the New Orleans area, a proposed change to the City of New Orleans charter and two local tax propositions.
Jul 2, 2012
In a letter to the City Planning Commission, BGR examines the commission’s draft Neighborhood Participation Program for Land Use Actions. The letter calls for changes to enhance the integrity of the process.
Read the letter here.
This edition of Now looks at the issue of public pension costs.
In Making Choice Right: Can Private School Vouchers Live Up to Their Promises? BGR examines the statewide school voucher program that the Governor is proposing, as well as the pilot program that has been in effect in Orleans Parish since 2008.
This edition of Now addresses the proposed funding increases for the Sewerage & Water Board in the context of necessary governance reforms.
This edition of Now addresses problems associated with the nonprofit exemption, and what can be done to solve them.
In this letter to the City Planning Commission, BGR suggests ways to make New Orleans’ draft comprehensive zoning ordinance easier for the public to use and understand. BGR enclosed with the letter a copy of a map showing how zoning changes might be better illustrated.
In Making the Waterworks Work: Fixing the Sewerage & Water Board’s Governance Problems, BGR examines how the agency’s governance has contributed to its problems, presents options for reforms and makes recommendations for change.
In On the Ballot: Local and State Propositions, October and November 2011, BGR examines charter amendments in Jefferson and Orleans parishes, tax propositions in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes, and six amendments to the state constitution.
In Moonlighting: An Overview of Policies Governing Paid Police Details, BGR examines the New Orleans Police Department’s existing and proposed police detail policies and procedures, and evaluates their adequacy in light of best practices.
Aug 1, 2011
In this letter to the Orleans Parish School Board, State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Recovery School District Superintendent, BGR joins with seven local business and civic organizations to ask the school districts to go back to the drawing board on proposed amendments to New Orleans’ School Facilities Master Plan.
Jun 28, 2011
In this letter to the members of the Civil Service Commission, BGR supports the concept proposed by the administration to amend the Civil Service rule related to layoffs, but raises concerns about certain aspects of the amendment.
In Over the River: The Future of the Crescent City Connection Bridge & Ferries, BGR examines the implications of allowing bridge tolls to expire and options for funding the bridge and ferries in the future.
In The Nonprofit Margin: Addressing the Costs of the Nonprofit Exemption in New Orleans (March 2011), BGR examines the impact of the nonprofit exemption on government finances and tax rates and various approaches for mitigating that impact.
The Bureau of Governmental Research made presentations before the New Orleans Tax Fairness Commission on February 3, 2011 and February 23, 2011.
The first presentation, Taxation in New Orleans, examines the City’s tax picture, with particular emphasis on property taxes. Read it here.
The second presentation, The Industrial Development Board and PILOT Subsidies, provides information on the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans and the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) subsidies that it awards to developments. Read it here.
The Bureau of Governmental Research today releases Inside Outsourcing: A Year in the Life of City Contracting. Building from an analysis of hundreds of City contracts in effect during 2009, BGR provides a broad overview of City contracting and discusses key problem areas that require the attention of the current administration and City Council.
In The Price of Civilization: Addressing Infrastructure Needs in New Orleans, BGR provides information on New Orleans’ core infrastructure needs and assesses the community’s capacity to fund those needs.
In Managing Innovation: Models for Governing the System of Public Schools in New Orleans (May 2010), BGR and Tulane University’s Cowen Institute present five potential models for governing public schools in New Orleans and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.
In A Need for Clarity: The Revised New Orleans 2030 Draft Plan (April 2010), BGR continues its work to improve the draft master plan. While the report recognizes limited improvements from the previous draft, it finds that the revised draft does not live up to its mission in key areas. The report provides specific recommendations for improving the document.
Contracting with Confidence: Professional Services Contracting Reform in New Orleans (March 2010) presents a new model to improve contract administration and restore faith in the contracting process.
With the primary on the way, BGR submitted questions to all mayoral candidates on topics in four areas: the city’s budget, city services, infrastructure and blight. Four candidates – Rob Couhig, John Georges, Mitch Landrieu and James Perry – responded. BGR is presenting the Q&A to the public in a web-only, four-part series, Questions for a New Mayor.
As the campaign for the city’s soon-to-be consolidated assessor’s office begins, BGR releases In All Fairness: Building a Model Assessment System in New Orleans. The report explains what the new citywide assessor must do to create a fair, efficient and transparent assessment system in Orleans Parish.
In this report, BGR examines the New Orleans draft master plan’s proposal for citizen participation.
BGR’s report, In Search of the Master Plan: Making the New Orleans 2030 Draft Plan Work, provides analysis and recommendations on the draft of the New Orleans master plan that is currently before the public.
Oct 12, 2009
In this release, BGR calls on the City Planning Commission to delay public hearings on the master plan until the missing portions — including chapters on citizen participation and plan implementation — have been released to the public.
In this report entitled In the Private Interest: A Review of the Lake Forest Plaza TIF Proposal, BGR analyzes a tax increment financing (TIF) proposal by the owners of the former mall site to use public funds to clear up debts on the site and redevelop it.
Feb 4, 2009
On Feb. 3, BGR sent a letter to Councilman Arnold Fielkow, Chairman of City Council’s Special Projects and Economic Development Committee, on the use and operation of the city’s Economic Development Fund. The letter recommends that the city abandon the current practice of directing grants to a handful of individual business ventures or nonprofit activities. Instead, it urges the city to use the EDF funds to fund economic development functions and initiatives that benefit multiple businesses.
Jan 15, 2009
Today the Bureau of Governmental Research releases Rethinking the World Trade Center Building Transaction. The report reviews the New Orleans Building Corporation’s approach to redeveloping the World Trade Center tower and parking garage in downtown New Orleans. For more than 10 years, the city has unsuccessfully pursued redevelopment in partnership with the master tenant of the buildings. BGR recommends that the city abandon that approach, and instead seek to buy out the master tenant and sell the buildings.
Oct 14, 2008
Street Smarts: Maintaining and Managing New Orleans’ Road Network provides an overview of street management systems and explores the challenges New Orleans faces in maintaining its streets.
Sep 24, 2008
BGR’s release, School Facilities Plan Leaves Financing Questions Unanswered (9/24/08), examines the financial component of the School Facilities Master Plan for Orleans Parish.
Sep 16, 2008
In On the Ballot: New Orleans, October 2008 (9/16/08), BGR provides analysis and takes positions on two ballot propositions: one to issue bonds for criminal justice facilities and another to protect the newly created Office of Inspector General.
On the Ballot: Orleans Parish School Tax Renewals provides an overview of four New Orleans property tax millages up for voter renewal on July 19.
Jun 19, 2008
BGR has sent a letter to members of the New Orleans City Council expressing concerns about certain aspects of the proposed redevelopment of the World Trade Center property downtown (6/19/08).
Mending the Urban Fabric: Blight in New Orleans is a two-part series analyzing blighted property programs and recommending reforms. In Part I, BGR addressed the structure, goals and strategy of New Orleans’ blight programs. In Part II, BGR focuses on code enforcement and procedures for successful redevelopment.
Mar 12, 2008
The City of New Orleans is working on a draft policy governing tax increment financing. BGR submitted comments on the February 2008 draft at the request of the City Council’s Special Development Projects and Economic Development Committee. The letter recommends that the City look to San Antonio’s TIF policy for guidance. In November, BGR submitted a letter commenting on a City TIF policy report.
This is the first in a two-part series analyzing New Orleans’ blighted property programs and recommending reforms.
Dec 10, 2007
BGR has been conducting extensive research on blighted property issues in New Orleans and is preparing a study for future publication. Drawing on that research, it is also responding to current developments. On December 11, BGR sent a letter to the City’s Office of Recovery Management recommending changes to local blighted property programs. The week before, it sent a letter to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority regarding its proposal to the Louisiana Recovery Authority for the properties the State is acquiring through the Road Home program.
Nov 28, 2007
This release calls on the City of New Orleans to conform to charter requirements in producing its capital budget.
Sep 17, 2007
In the face of mounting developer requests for subsidies, this release calls for the City of New Orleans and the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans to stop approving subsidies until they have implemented promised policies and procedures.
Sep 5, 2007
This release (9/5/07) raises concerns about proposed budget approvals for the Office of Recovery Management’s plans in advance of a public vetting of those plans.
Aug 17, 2007
Cementing Imbalance: A Post-Katrina Analysis of the Regional Distribution of Subsidized Rental Housing is the latest in a series of BGR reports on affordable housing issues. It includes parish by parish data and maps showing the distribution of subsidized housing in the most populous parishes.
- Cementing Imbalance: A Post-Katrina Analysis of the Regional Distribution of Subsidized Rental Housing [PDF]
- Available and Projected Project-Based Subsidized Housing in Jefferson Parish, June 2007 [PDF]
- Available and Projected Project-Based Subsidized Housing in Orleans Parish, June 2007 [PDF]
- Available and Projected Project-Based Subsidized Housing in St. Tammany Parish, June 2007 [PDF]
Aug 14, 2007
BGR provided this piece for publication in Gambit Weekly, explaining the ways in which significantly increased assessments can be about fairness and the common good.
May 21, 2007
In UNOP Revisited: An Analysis of the Revised Citywide Plan, BGR follows up on its previous report on the Unified New Orleans Plan citywide product, focusing on the revised plan. It offers recommendations to the City Planning Commission for further revisions.
May 17, 2007
In Budgeting in a Time of Crisis: A Review of the City of New Orleans’ 2007 Budgets, BGR examines the City’s operating and capital budgets for 2007, the second post-Katrina fiscal year.
May 15, 2007
In Public Investment, Private Developers: How Louisiana Deployed Its GO Zone Housing Tax Credits, BGR analyzes the unit production and geographic distribution of developments awarded $1.7 billion worth of Gulf Opportunity Zone Housing Tax Credits. In addition, it analyzes the financing and costs of projects that received tax credit awards in December 2006. Developments in that group were eligible to “piggy-back” the tax credits with loans of federal Community Development Block Grant funds made available through a Louisiana Recovery Authority program.
May 3, 2007
In a follow-up to Protecting New Orleans’ Tax Base: Which PILOTs Should Fly? BGR raises concerns about requests for local property tax subsidies to housing developments that have already received subsidies through state and federal programs.
Mar 12, 2007
In Protecting New Orleans’ Tax Base: Which PILOTs Should Fly? BGR addresses New Orleans’ system for handling property tax subsidies through the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) mechanism. This report comes at a time when requests for such subsidies are increasing.
Mar 5, 2007
BGR provides an analysis of the nearly 600-page draft Citywide Plan, the centerpiece of the Unified New Orleans Plan process.
Oct 12, 2006
In September 2006, members of the New Orleans City Council introduced an ordinance to establish an Office of Inspector General. Read BGR’s letter to the City Council as well as the version of the ordinance introduced on October 19 and the final version approved by City Council on November 2.
Oct 10, 2006
On the Ballot is an analysis of proposed constitutional amendments of particular significance to the New Orleans region. This issue covers amendments that went before voters on November 7, 2006 — including consolidation of assessors.
Sep 18, 2006
On September 30, Louisiana voters were asked to approve 13 constitutional amendments. This report focuses on those that are amendments relevant to Greater New Orleans in four arenas: coastal restoration and flood/hurricane protection, expropriation, the homestead exemption, and unfunded state mandates.
Sep 18, 2006
BGR’s report on the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s Road Home rental housing program raises serious concerns about the implications of the program in New Orleans.
Aug 14, 2006
In this follow-up to its October 2003 report Runaway Discretion, BGR sets forth proposed charter amendments to reform planning and land use decision making in New Orleans.
Apr 12, 2006
BGR challenged New Orleans mayoral candidates to implement BGR’s model for professional services contracting reform within 90 days of assuming office. To read the model and the accompanying press release, click on the links below.
Apr 5, 2006