Government & Politics
 

Live blog: Landrieu continues budget meetings tonight in eastern New Orleans

Mayor Mitch Landrieu will hold his third town-hall meeting on the 2014 city budget Thursday night at 6 p.m. in City Council District E, which includes eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward.

Thursday’s meeting will be held at the Joe W. Brown Recreational Center at 5601 Read Blvd. The Lens will live blog the meeting below.

Residents at this year’s first meeting, in City Council District C, asked repeatedly about a fare schedule for the Algiers ferry recently approved as the Regional Transit Authority prepares to take control of the ferries.

At the second meeting, in District A, several audience members criticized Landrieu for what they characterized as his failure to properly fund the New Orleans Fire Department and the Fire Fighters Pension and Relief Fund. Terry Hampton, who sits on the pension fund’s board, said the current number of department employees — about 670 — is too low and the department will continue to lose staff to attrition.

“We have no [recruiting] class scheduled at this time, and even if we do it will take six months to get them working,” Hampton said. Responding to Hampton, fire Chief Timothy McConnell said the department has sufficient staffing for 20 percent of the force to be off on any given day.

Landrieu said he would like to add more firefighters, but the city can’t afford them as a result of what he said is mismanagement of the pension fund. The city’s required contributions to the fund total more than $50 million per year.

“The firefighters pension fund is the worst — or one of the worst — run pension funds in the country,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu typically releases his proposed executive budget in October. The City Council holds budget hearings in early November. It has until Dec. 1 to amend and pass a budget, which in recent years has approached $900 million. That includes nearly $500 million in the general fund, the locally generated portion of the budget over which the city has direct control.

Live blog

Upcoming meetings

Each meeting starts at 6 p.m. The Lens will live-blog each one.

  • Monday, Aug. 26: District D, represented by Cynthia Hedge-Morrell
    Location: Lake Area New Tech Early College High School, 6026 Paris Ave.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 28: District B, represented by LaToya Cantrell
    KIPP Central City Academy,  2514 Third St.

City agencies will be on hand starting at 5:30 p.m. to talk to residents and deal with specific concerns.

Virtual town hall meeting

On Aug. 30 at 12:30 p.m., join The Lens for a live, text-based chat to discuss the administration’s priorities and challenges in budgeting for the upcoming year.

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