A new report from the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) takes a closer look at the impacts of the City of New Orleans’ federal pandemic relief funds on its finances and budget priorities.
Managing the Windfall: Tracking the City of New Orleans’ Use of Federal Pandemic Relief Funds finds that the City has spent almost all of the first half ($194 million) of the funds, allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), in its police and fire departments’ budgets. This made General Fund revenue from those departments available to fill projected budget gaps in 2021 and 2022. However, the projected gaps didn’t materialize, allowing the City to save a significant amount of revenue from its discretionary local funding streams and build its financial reserves with the surplus.
As the City begins spending the remaining relief funds and some of the reserve growth, BGR recommends ways in which City officials can increase public transparency and accountability.