Strengthening New Orleans’ Use of Its General Fund Balance

• Bureau of Governmental Research


Today, BGR sent a letter to the mayor and the New Orleans City Council urging greater planning and public reporting for the City of New Orleans’ use of its primary financial reserve.

The City Council’s budget committee is meeting tomorrow, May 23, to consider more than $73 million in appropriations from this reserve, called the General Fund balance. This money came into the City’s reserve largely as a result of savings enabled by federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for COVID-19 pandemic relief. BGR chronicled the growth in the reserve in a December 2022 report, Managing the Windfall: Tracking the City of New Orleans’ Use of Federal Pandemic Relief Funds.

Considering the crucial role that the ARPA funds played in building this reserve, the report called for the City to apply BGR’s same recommendations for ensuring transparency and accountability of the federal funds to these one-time dollars. But six months since releasing Managing the Windfall, BGR has concerns that appropriations from the General Fund balance are continuing without adequate public information, planning and accountability.

BGR’s letter calls on the City to address these deficiencies – and provides recommendations for doing so – before approving additional fund balance appropriations.

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