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Orleans CAO expects city and Mayor Cantrell to 'resolve' travel repayment issue

A recent interpretation by the city attorney classifies Mayor Cantrell as a city employee and Montano says she must abide by the city travel policy.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano says that a city attorney’s ruling means that he will have to enforce the city travel policy to all employees and that Mayor LaToya Cantrell is a city employee.

The city council has been asking for a ruling on whether or not Cantrell has to repay nearly $30,000 in travel upgrades for flying first class on several trips this year. City policy states that all employees should fly coach, though there are some exceptions for lengthy flights but those benefits have a cap.

Earlier this week the city attorney issued an opinion that Cantrell is a city employee and thus should abide by the policy, which requires reimbursement of the difference in fares if a city employee chooses to fly first or business class.

Montano did not specifically say that Cantrell would pay back the nearly $30,000 amount but did say “I’m confident that the mayor and I can sit down and discuss and resolve this and have a solution very quickly.”

Cantrell had previously stated that she would not replay the city of New Orleans for travel she conducted on behalf of the city of New Orleans. She said that she traveled in first class for her safety and for health issues.

This week she said that with COVID-19’s effects being reduced that she would return to her pre-COVID-19 travel procedures but did not state what those were or if COVID-19 concerns were her reason for flying first class.

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