By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer
The New Orleans City Council has failed to accommodate a request by an open governance group to turn the city’s budget over a few days early so the public can scrutinize last-minute changes.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu submitted his budget to the council two weeks earlier than usual this year, and the New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance made the request for the time-savings to be passed on to the public at the conclusion of city budget hearings on Nov. 15.
Traditionally, the council has scurried to make all its changes and then approve the budget all on Dec. 1, the deadline mandated by the city charter.
Council President Arnie Fielkow, who is also chairman of the council’s Budget Committee, was open to the suggestion at the time, but he appears to have fallen short since.
“Ideally, the budget will be available before December 1st, but that can’t be promised,” Fielkow’s spokeswoman Danielle Viguerie said. “The council and the mayor are still working on the best document they can produce.”
The coalition’s members aren’t exactly holding their breath.
“It was important to step out and let the council know that we expect a different standard of openness around the budget,” NOCOG coordinator Linda Usdin said. “We’re disappointed that wasn’t possible, and that there’s going to be the same level of chaos around the budget on December 1st as there is every year.”