One thing is certain about the 2014 budget that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will present to the City Council on Tuesday: The proposed general fund operating budget — what most people mean when they refer to the city budget — will total $504,348,535.
That is the figure the city’s Revenue Estimating Conference adopted Friday as the official revenue forecast for 2014.
It compares with the $491.4 million budget Landrieu proposed a year ago for 2013, a number that has since grown to just under $495 million.
So the city expects to have about $9.5 million more to spend in 2014 than in 2013, which sounds like good news. The problem is demands on the budget are growing even faster than revenue.
Among those demands: federal consent decrees mandating major changes to the Police Department and Orleans Parish Prison, and rising costs for basically unavoidable expenses such as pensions, health care and workers’ compensation.
Not to mention a Civil District Court judge’s ruling several months ago that the city must immediately pay $17.5 million to cover unmet 2012 obligations to the firefighters’ pension fund.
The city is appealing that ruling, and it seems unlikely Landrieu’s proposed budget will include money to pay the judgment.
Exactly how many millions of dollars Landrieu will include in the budget to implement the two consent decrees won’t be known until Tuesday, but he has said many times the city can’t afford to carry out both sets of mandates simultaneously without causing cutbacks elsewhere, such as widespread furloughs or layoffs.