This past Thursday the City of New Orleans adopted a $1.4 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year that includes funding many key priorities of the NOLA Coalition. A total of $124 million of the budget will be funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal dollars that the City received.
The NOLA Coalition, representing a diverse cross-section of nearly 475 New Orleans and regional organizations, supports the plan developed by Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the New Orleans City Council. Many parts of the budget reflect the Coalition’s platform elements, including: Improving Recruiting & Retention; Improving Pay & Benefits; Technology; Accountability for the Entire Criminal Justice System; Gang Activity and Violent Crime; Optimizing Resources; Community & Social Support; and, Investment in Youth Services.
Elements of the budget relevant to the NOLA Coalition include:
- $32.5M for NOPD recruitment and retention pay and benefits1. The package includes $20,000 bonuses for new officers, along with a $10,000 retention payment for officers completing their third year on the force. It will also fund an existing retention bonus that provides $5,000 for officers every five years for up to 20 years of service
- $30M for a criminal justice system technology overhaul
- $7.5M for public safety equipment and tools, like Kevlar vests and crime lab training equipment
- $6M for victim assistance, including clearing the current DNA backlog
- $15M for youth services programs (matching the amount to be raised by the NOLA Coalition)
- The Council and City CAO committed to funding a new Violent Offender Unit for the District Attorney’s office
In addition, the Council passed an accountability motion that directs the Administration, NOPD, and the Civil Service Commission to create a mid-year report evaluating the effectiveness of the retention package and to present it to the City Council in June of 2023.
While there is undoubtedly more work to do, the newly adopted City budget clearly supports the NOLA Coalition’s mission of “creating a safer and more prosperous New Orleans for all residents,” and the Coalition commends the Administration and Council on its passage. Implementation and speed of effective activation will now be the key.
1Does not include health insurance; $7M will be held in escrow until effectiveness determined