NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says Gov. Bobby Jindal's spending policies are partly to blame for New Orleans' budget woes.
'The state of Louisiana continues not to honor its obligations to fund services on a state level and as a consequence, all of those budget pressures come down to local governments,' Landrieu told the City Council.
Monday, Landrieu sent the City Council a $491 million budget proposal for 2013. That's about $6 million less than 2012.
'You can't spend more than you have and of course that brings to you and to me unfortunately choices that have to be made,' said Landrieu.
The mayor is cutting his own office budget by 25 percent. Human services, public works, summer youth programs and the law department would also see major cuts.
The budget funds police, fire and EMS at or above current levels.
The NOPD is also expected to see a $7 million increase to implement reforms spelled out in a federal consent decree.
The budget pays for 1260 police officers. That's about 300 less than the city's top cop would like to have.
'When the council passes that budget, they too have agreed that this police department will be staffed at whatever that number is,' said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas. 'That's what we're going to work with.'
The council did not sustain any cuts in the mayor's spending proposal, but council budget committee chair Jackie Clarkson said in the spirit of cooperation with the administration, the council will look for ways to cut its own budget.
'We won't be the only ones not to be reduced,' said Clarkson. 'That's not the consensus of this council at all.'
The mayor's spending plan would also deal major reductions to two city's courts.
Deputy Mayor and CAO Andy Kopplin said recent studies by the Louisiana Supreme Court and others indicate New Orleans has a larger bench than the workload justifies.
As a result, the city is now asking the City Council to cut the budgets at both criminal and juvenile court by about 30 percent.
'The workload for municipal court has gone up,' said Kopplin. 'The workload for criminal court and juvenile court has gone down and the evidence suggests that these funding reductions are appropriate based on the balance of that workload.'
The budget proposal includes $10 million to repair and replace broken street lights.
The mayor suggested two options to pay for it. The city could shift federal funds from other projects. But, the administration is hoping the City Council will raise Entergy's franchise fee to give street lights a dedicated source of revenue.
'We think this is a smart, long-term solution to upgrade our infrastructure, keep the street lights repaired, lower the cost of operating and be sustainable, once and for all,' said Kopplin.
'I think we need something sustainable on street lights because we will always have storms and we will always have street lights in needs of repair,' said Clarkson.
The council budget committee will begin holding regular meetings on the proposed spending plan next week.
By law, the council must approve a balanced budget by Dec. 1.