Government & Politics

Rollover on the road

One day after the City Council voted to roll over roughly $600 million of spending into the 2010 budget, ground was broken on two roadway improvement projects.

A press release sent out Friday by Mayor Ray Nagin’s office announced the start of street repaving projects on St. Roch Avenue from North Roman Street to St. Claude Avenue, and in the Holy Cross section of the Lower Ninth Ward. Both projects will cost close to $900,000 and include the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalk ramps. The new roads will be complete by June of 2010, according to the Feb. 5 release.

Both projects were allocated money from federal Disaster Community Development Block Grant funding before the start of 2010. This meant that their progress depended on the council’s vote Thursday to transfer or “roll over” such unspent appropriations into the current year budget. While the rollover was in most years a rote technical motion, this year it became a flashpoint for tensions between the City Council and the Nagin administration, which had wanted the council to approve the ordinance immediately after receiving it in January. Fearing that not all the appropriations were as straightforward as the road work, the council postponed the vote to allow members time to review specific projects that would be reappropriated.

A press release sent out by the mayor’s office Thursday morning – before the council took action – warned that the recovery would be severely delayed if the City Council did not approve the capital budget ordinance.

Before passing the rollover Thursday, the council added several amendments limiting work on controversial redevelopment projects, including City Hall, the Youth Study Center and community facilities in Hollygrove and Gert Town. No limitations were put on roadwork projects.

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