New Orleans, LA - December 18, 2009 -
Today the City Council released the following statement regarding the Mayor's implementation of the 2010 Budget:
"The Council reiterates its position of December 3, 2009. We disagree with the Mayor's approach and ultimate budgetary cuts. These decisions are solely and definitively his. We had hoped he would make efficient cuts with his citizenry and employees foremost in mind; however it appears his actions do not reflect those priorities, which is regrettable.
"In light of the fact that previous years have included budgeted revenues which were not realized, the Council adopted a balanced budget with fiscally responsible revenue projections. The revenue projections made by the Mayor were overly optimistic. While we are hopeful that more revenues will come in and we will add dollars to the budget, the Council budgeted conservatively, which is the proper way to budget from a revenue standpoint.
"The Council adopted the 2010 budget with targeted areas in which the Mayor could make reductions which would least harm citizens and city employees. The balanced budget adopted by the Council reflects the priorities of the citizenry, as articulated during community meetings and four weeks of Council budget hearings.
"Some of the cuts made by the Mayor are necessary, and may in fact be wise. However, the reality is that some of the Mayor's cuts are truly hurtful to the citizens and make no sense. The Mayor never vetoed the budget, and therefore the decisions he announced are his and his alone. The Council does not have the ability to make line item vetoes, so the Mayor has total discretion to prioritize projects within each department.
"We know that the District Attorney, criminal justice and EMS deserve more money - they are a top priority. However, it makes no sense to cut blight reduction hearing officers, given that this is a priority of the City and ultimately brings revenue to the City through the collection of fines and penalties.
"Had the Mayor reached out to Councilmembers before making his decision and publically announcing his intentions, we believe an accord could have been reached on many of the budget items. It is regrettable that the Mayor did not attempt to engage the Council on these items before making his final decision.
"The budget is a living document and can be altered throughout the year, as necessary. The Council, as always, is prepared to work with the Administration to move dollars around, which would be in the best interest of citizens."