Wednesday, October 07, 2009

OIG Report on Budget Processes (Updated)

I've been looking forward to this report for a long time. The way we do our budget is a major source of frustration and a major impediment to some of the easier changes we'd like to see.

Last year's budget battle was awful for every single member of City Council. I'm not sure there is enough time before this year's negotiation but hopefully this report will stiffen the Council's resolve on items where there is common ground.

OIG Report on Mayors Budget

I'll be updating this post with different noteworthy items that I might find as I read through this. You should feel free to do so yourself in the comment section below.


We've also learned that the city budget is now $68 million in the red, not the $43 million originally estimated.

I have a hunch that we will see the deficit go up again before the next budget is signed, perhaps to close to $100 million.

As it stands right now, the deficit represents almost 15% of the budget.

The Mayor is talking about across-the-board cuts, which as the Times-Picayune points out, is specifically criticized as a poor methodology. The report talks about what is known as 'budgeting for outcomes,' a system that forces a more critical look at what programs actually address municipal priorities and which do not.

I don't really want to talk about boring stuff like budgeting for outcomes but I do want to talk about municipal priorities. That's what immediately jumps out if you page through the OIG review of 2009's budget processes.

If you start at page 27 above and look at where New Orleans ranks on different spending priorities, it will really begin to crystallize.

One of the thing that frustrates me about discourse in this city is that criticism of municipal inefficiencies is too often translated into the language of Jefferson Parish conservatism. The stereotypical impulse to cut taxes and spending as a matter of reactionary opposition to post 1960s political gains has obscured the voices of those who are more-or-less interested in maintaining spending so long as that revenue goes toward programs that extend opportunity and improve quality of life.

It should be really simple to cut waste from the Dept. of Sanitation to shift additional resources to NORD. But it isn't simple here. It is extremely complicated.

I hope that if we can start by producing accessible and accurate budget documents, we'll soon be able to actually discuss whether or not budgets are actually addressing the needs of the city.

Council can win this much for us. This year.


Superdeformed said...

Since I heard about this report on the radio yesterday I've been waiting for you guys to blog about it.

mominem said...

Took a while to actually get a copy.

Duff said...

It's worth looking through if only for the bar charts comparing New Orleans with other cities. I think we tend to lose focus of how insane some city spending is until we can see it compared to other comparable cities. "Finding 9" is the most jaw-dropping, in my opinion. Well, that and the executive branch spending and sanitation charts.

Clifton said...

I was surprised about how much the CAO's office spends as much as I was disappointed in how little we actually raised NORD's budget.

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