City Council approves 2014 budget, expects surplus for first time in years

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wwltv.com

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 21 at 7:20 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - After weeks of budget hearings, the City Council has approved next year's $859 million budget. City officials say public safety is the main priority.

“This budget funds 150 new police officers for the NOPD and puts our money where our mouth is,” said CAO Andy Kopplin.

But some believe the focus shouldn't just be on police officers when it comes to public safety.

“We don't see any funding for any new recruits. We're operating daily in a dangerous situation where firefighters are responding against industry standards,” said Nick Felton, president of the New Orleans Firefighters Union.

The council did vote Thursday to add another $2 million to Sheriff Marlin Gusman's budget at the city's recommendation.

The city will have to fund a federal consent decree for the Orleans Parish jail, which is run by Gusman.

It’s still unclear exactly how much the consent decree will cost.

City officials say they are expecting a budget surplus for the first time in years if all goes as planned, although funding the consent decree for the jail could wipe that out.

Still, City Council President Jackie Clarkson said this was one of the smoothest budgeting processes she's ever seen thanks to cooperation between the council and administration.

“I can't thank the council enough, for most of the budget hearings we had most of the council most of the time I've never seen that before. I've never seen an administration that was willing to work with us so well,” said Clarkson.

The budget goes into effect Jan. 1.

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