Thursday, May 01, 2008


From today's Picayune:
City facing more red ink,
revenue conference is told

..., the city's budget faces almost $60 million in red ink during the next five years unless the city takes steps to increase projected revenue or reduce expenditures.
The council said it would either cut spending or raise property taxes, with the goal of being self-sufficient by 2011, the same target as under a five-year financial recovery plan drawn up by the administration after Hurricane Katrina.

Rebuilding money from the federal government, or non-profits, or who knows where, has nothing to do with the city's ability to provide essential services or staff those shiny new libraries.

Think about that when you hear stories like this:
When asked whether, based on his observations, New Orleans is paying a lot more than any community that he studied, Shick replied that, on a per capita basis, the city is paying “a lot more.”

In his research, Shick says the average city paid $2.99 per citizen per year for 311 service. San Antonio, Texas has the cheapest system, at just over $1 per resident. Minneapolis, Minnesota is the most expensive, hovering around $7. But according to Shick, New Orleans could be paying almost $20 per resident every year for 311 service.

Or when James "no more business as usual" Carter calls Arnie Fielkow a hypocrite for questioning $600,000 worth of business as usual.

WWL TV (& Lee Zurik) are on a roll.
Yet again, we see the "bucking the trend" line used in the first paragraph of a story about the local economy... just ahead of the inevitable bad news. What is up with that?
I'm sorry, I side with James. Fielkow's push for the $1.5 million dollar Frilot contract does make him seem the hypocrite in that affair you linked.

If Council attempts to jimmy up the property tax now though, they're going to have to account for all the untaxed/non-revenue producing properties DEVELOPERS are sitting on first. Why should the proletariat class pay for the whole city?
For the most part, I agree with you about Fielkow. I started calling him Fielgood because he'd rather sign a check than say no. But I don't know if I'd call him a hypocrite just because he finally decided to start doing the more unpleasant parts of his job. I'd have to see if this was a one time thing, or if we can expect to see more. I have to side with Fielkow on this one, but I'm agnostic, at best, in his case.

Did anybody on the council actually oppose contacting out the property tax appeals? I waited til I could do a lexisnexis search at work to reply, but I couldn't find any reports of squabbling over the contract. It wouldn't surprise me if there were differences over who got the contract, but did anybody object to contracting it out?

As for Carter, he ran promising "no more business as usual,' but this is at least the third he's successfully killed, or weakened, efforts to end business as usual. So, yeah, I'd call him a hypocrite.

About property taxes, you might find this interesting:

While NOPL's budget was about $18.45 per capita in 2004, at the 16th percentile of peer libraries, the library's per capita budget would be the equivalent (in current dollars) of $40.53 per capita, thus placing it in the upper quartile of its peers. Personnel costs would more than double to add service and hours for a population estimated by 2030 to remain 16% of pre-Katrina figures.
The plan estimates a capital budget of nearly $200 million in current dollars, or $277 million over time. Where to get the capital funds? Mayfield was optimistic, saying that federal and state funds had not been tapped, nor had local and national foundations. The city's economy has been growing, and Mayfield said "we think we have justification to double the millage."

None of the local reporting on the ambitious new library makeover mentioned increased property taxes. I certainly don't think irvin Mayfield's corrupt, but I certainly suspect that he's being used by people who would rather award fat contracts than get the library system up and running.
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