City Council to hold hearings ahead of budget vote

New Orleans — The City Council today will begin a week-and-a-half of budget hearings as it prepares to vote on the 2013 budget.

The budget hearings begin today at 10 a.m. in the City Council chambers. Municipal participation grants will be heard until noon. The hearings will resume at 1:30 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m., during which time the council will hear from the Safety and Permits Department, Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Vieux Carre Commission, City Planning Commission and the New Orleans Regional Business Park.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu last week presented to the council his proposed budget of $491.4 million, about $5 million less than last year because of lower revenues. Most departments will face cuts between 8 and 10 percent, but public safety largely would be spared and see increases.

Under the proposed budget, Safety and Permits would receive $4.7 million, down from $5 million in 2012. The City Planning Commission’s budget would drop to $1.6 million, as compared with last year’s $1.8 million. The HDLC and VCC would retain their $638,095 and $344,831 budgets respectively.

Landrieu has said the budget will be tough to implement because revenues are forecast to be lower than last year while many costs are on the rise, including employee pensions, insurance and workers compensation. At the same time, the city continues to prepare to fund the multiyear, multimillion-dollar Police Department consent decree.

Budget hearings will continue daily until Nov. 16. The council will vote to adopt the budget Nov. 30.