The New Orleans City Council received a 'lean and mean' budget proposal as Mayor Mitch Landrieu presented his 2013 spending plan -- a plan that calls for spending less in 2013 than in the previous year.
Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin says the $491.4 million general operating budget is about $6 million below what was initially budgeted and approved by the council for 2012.
'So 2013, like 2012, is going to be a challenge,' said Landrieu. 'In 2013, we must employ the same strategy that we used in the past: Cut, reorganize and invest.'
According to the city's Revenue Forecasting Conference, taxes and other revenue will be down slightly compared to the current budget year. Besides general inflation, costs are up for health care, workers compensation claims and pensions.
'So with the exception of public safety entities, the New Orleans Police Department, the New Orleans Fire Department and EMS, many departments will see an 8-10 percent reduction from their 2012 budgets,' said Landrieu.
The mayor's office will not be exempt from the cuts, as 25 percent will be slashed the office's budget. Public safety, according to Landrieu, is the top priority. The NOPD's $125.6 million budget will fund 1260 officers.
The city must also find money to fund mandated reforms as a result of federal consent decrees dealing with the New Orleans Police Department and Orleans Parish Prison.
Mayor Landrieu says that could add about $7 million a year to the NOPD budget. Sheriff Marlin Gusman estimates changes at the jail could cost the city as much as $40 million.
'These cuts will have consequences and these cuts will hurt,' said Landrieu.
Landrieu is expected to use his budget address to lay out some new initiatives for the coming year.
Friday, the administration released the result of a study that suggested the city may be better served by merging the Traffic and Municipal Courts. According to the report by the Public Financial Group, New Orleans has far more courts than the state norm and that there are 450 full-time employees in the four courts.
The city council is expected to receive the mayor's budget proposal during a special meeting at noon. His budget experts will explain the spending in greater detail at two.
The City Council is required by law to pass a budget by the end of 2012.