New Orleans report notes good and bad for departments in 2012

A number of city departments met or exceeded benchmarks in 2012, while several others fell short of their goals, according to Results NOLA 2012, a quarterly report released last week for the end of the previous calendar year.

“This report reflects our progress and challenges in 2012,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a prepared statement. “City departments worked aggressively to meet and exceed performance targets, especially on quality-of-life issues for our residents. Our neighborhoods are better places to live when we are hitting these important marks.”

Highlights in 2012 compared with 2011 that the Mayor’s Office pointed out include:

A 61 percent increase in the number of catch basins cleaned.

A 13 percent increase in the number of potholes filled.

A 43 percent increase in the number of tax and public nuisance cases filed before the Alcoholic Beverage Outlet Board.

The city noted that it is showing “significant progress” in paying vendors in a timely manner and that it exceeded targets for grants and capital projects. However, a “number of unforeseen events,” such as Hurricane Isaac and computer problems, did affect that process. Changes are being made to avoid those problems in the future, according to the report.

While the city said it remains on track to meet Landrieu’s goal of removing 10,000 blighted properties by 2014, Code Enforcement fell short of most of its other goals in areas. Code enforcement inspections, for example, numbered 11,931 while the department had a goal of 20,000. The number of blight eradication administrative hearings, the number of lots cleared or found in compliance, and the number of writs filed so properties can be sold or remediated through foreclosure proceedings also were below the city’s intended goals.

A transition to new code enforcement software last year was responsible for part of the low results, according to the report.

“While the implementation led to a short-term decrease in productivity, the new system will enable code enforcement to be more efficient, effective and collaborative with other departments and will allow for better, more accurate data sharing with the public on the status of blighted property,” the report reads in part.

The number of streetlights repaired last year was 12,813, according to the report, below the 15,000 Landrieu wanted fixed. Landrieu has proposed raising the Entergy franchise fee to create a new, continuous funding source for streetlight repairs. The City Council has not yet voted on that idea.

At 77.3 percent, New Orleans EMS did not meet its goal of getting to 82 percent of calls for service within 12 minutes.

The agency hopes to better its response time through “smarter staffing,” according to the report.

Of the calls to the city’s Information Technology help desk, 16 percent of those who tried to contact operators hung up before their calls were answered.

The results, the report noted, are “for the most part self-reported by the departments and unaudited.” The city will work with departments this year to better document and review data sources, the report reads.

This is the eighth Results NOLA report the city has issued.