2019 Review: Mayor Cantrell marks progress on public safety, infrastructure, and fiscal responsibility

NEW ORLEANS — With new funding secured for critical infrastructure needs, a second year of falling homicide rates, more efficient oversight of City finances and major wins at the ballot box, Mayor LaToya Cantrell marked a year of substantial progress in the 2019 calendar year.

Mayor Cantrell pointed to these accomplishments as well as responses to a range of emergencies throughout the year in an update provided to residents this week.

“Throughout this past year, together we have accomplished a lot and have faced many challenges. With each challenge, we tackled them head on with transparency and accountability, and through that we built a trust between the people of our city and their government,” said Mayor Cantrell. “This momentum led us to a historical reinvestment in our infrastructure that we approached comprehensively and collaboratively. We met each goal and obstacle with an attitude that provided a clear focus and vision for the start of 2020. I’m excited about all that we will accomplish together in the next year and in the decade ahead. Together, we will continue to make the ‘City of Yes’ a reality for all.”

The Cantrell Administration also secured a fiscally responsible budget through its work with the City Council to fund critical public safety and infrastructure needs, and without adding additional tax burdens on residents or affecting the Fund Balance – using zero-based budgeting practices.

Over 2019, the administration focused on five key priorities:

  1. Public safety as public health
  2. Investing in infrastructure
  3. Quality of life
  4. Economic development
  5. Culture change at City Hall

    (NOTE: Metrics from this report are reflective of data measures assembled by the City’s Results NOLA initiative, the City’s public-facing performance scorecard. ResultsNOLA tracks the progress of City departments on metrics that align to the City’s strategic framework. Read here for more information.)


Public Safety As Public Health

By working collaboratively and intentionally, the City’s public safety team has worked more effectively to protect our residents, reduce crime, prevent violence, increase security, assist our more vulnerable residents, improve efficiency, and more effectively respond to the number of emergencies that have challenged this City including flooding, threat of hurricanes, the Hard Rock collapse, and a cyber attack.

Key accomplishments include:

  • Effective NOPD leadership transition to Supt. Shaun Ferguson as consent decree winds down 20 percent reduction in homicides from 2018
  • Opening of the Sobering Center, partnering with Odyssey House of Louisiana in coordination with the Health Department, Emergency Medical Services and NOPD
  • Installation of 104 new neighborhood safety cameras
  • New Orleans Fire Department received Class 1 Public Protection Certifiction
  • Completed security enhancements along the Lafitte Greenway
  • Integrated Flood Warning Sensors into the Real-Time Crime Center

Investing In Infrastructure

Over the course of 2019 we have made great strides in modernizing our citywide infrastructure, won an unprecedented fair share of funding for our critical needs through legislation and voter referendum, and rapidly completed capital projects, filled potholes, cleaned catch basins, drained lines and repaired streetlights. We know we have a long way go to, but we have set the tone and the pace to repair and maintain this City’s infrastructure.

Key accomplishments include:

  • Secured more than $50 million in one time funding and $27 million in recurring dollars to support infrastructure through the Fair Share Agreement
  • Accelerated spending on the combined Department of Public Works / Sewerage and Water Board Joint Infrastructure Program: Completed Nine Projects worth more than $25 million (Lower Ninth Ward Northwest, Lower Ninth Ward Northeast, Lake Terrace & Oaks Group A, Lakeview North Group A, Read Boulevard East Group A, Gentilly Terrace Group A, Village De L’Est Group A, Lakeshore Group A, Lakewood Group A)
  • Moved Eleven Projects worth about $65 million into construction (Read West Group A, West Bank Group A, Lakeview South Group A, Filmore North Group A, West End Group A, Little Woods Group B, St. Claude Group A, Taft Place Reconstruction, Village De L’Est Group B, Mid-City Group A, Filmore South Group A)
  • Took significant steps toward building additional storage that will hold storm water through our Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and HUD National Disaster Resilience Program: Received the final funding approval for the $16.3 million HMGP portion of the Mirabeau Water Garden Project, which will store up to 10 million gallons of storm water. Construction will begin in 2020
  • Reached the final design phase on the Broadmoor DPS 01 Project, which includes nine neighborhoods and will store up to 13 million gallons of storm water. Construction will begin in mid-2020.
  • Construction is now well under way on the $15.5 million Pontilly Neighborhood Stormwater Network, which will store nearly nine million gallons of storm water and reduce flooding as much as 14 inches during a 10-year rain event when complete in fall 2020.
  • Construction is also under way on the $7.1 million Hagan Lafitte project that will reduce localized flooding by storing up to 1.3 million gallons of storm water. Construction will be complete in fall 2020.
  • Put more than $85 million in projects into design through the Gentilly Resilience District (Mirabeau Water Garden, St. Anthony Green Streets, St. Bernard Campus, Blue & Green Corridors, Dillard Wetlands, Pontilly Dwyer Canal). Construction on these projects will begin in 2020.
  • Initiated quarterly Infrastructure Industry Days to ensure that our local businesses can benefit from all of the upcoming programs and projects
  • Identified opportunities to break up large contracts so that they are competitive for small businesses
  • Dramatically cut Mardi Gras overtime by 57 percent between 2018 and 2019 in the Property Management Department
  • Increased annual lease revenues in the Property Management Department by more than 25 percent
  • Completed eight energy-efficiency projects which reduced the city’s building greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 14 percent and will save the city more than 200,000 annually
  • Began using flood events to make data-driven decisions/better plan future projects
  • Facilitated the continuation of curbside recycling in all areas of the city when faced with the suspension of this value added service
  • Negotiated Entergy Rate Reductions, saving the City $250,000 in 2019
  • Instituted technology-driven management of catch basins which has resulted in marked productivity improvement — more than 6,500 were cleaned/inspected through Dec. 12, 2019 which is a more than 32 percent increase over those that were cleaned/inspected in 2018.
  • Completed 26 capital projects worth approximately $112 million including NOFD Engine 36, Criminal Court Interior Renovations, Juvenile Justice Intervention Center, Cuccia Byrnes Multipurpose Center and the DPW Multipurpose Building
  • Completed fully reconstructing the surface and sub-surface utilities in the 500-800 blocks of Bourbon Street. The $9.5 million Bourbon Phase 2 Project yielded enhanced public safety, a rehabilitated sewer system, upsized drainage, ADA-compliant curb ramps and much more.
  • Completed projects that align with the city’s Complete Streets Policy including on South Galvez Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Toledano Street as well as on Marconi Drive/Orleans Avenue between City Park Avenue and Zachary Taylor Drive
  • Completed the Citywide Tree Inventory, which Parks & Parkways is using to gain needed insight into the value of the City’s urban canopy that is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina
  • Improved accountability and transparency for the Sewerage and Water Board, including improved billing and finance practices, increased canal inspections and cleaning, and completion of phase one of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), successfully bringing the second water tower online
  • Released the Mayor’s Office of Transportation’s Moving New Orleans action strategy to plan for more accessible, healthier and equitable transportation options

QUALITY OF LIFE

We recognize that our City’s quality of life depends on myriad factors, but first and foremost we know that beyond safety and security, New Orleanians need access to affordable housing and safe, equitable transportation options. Our residents also want to live in a clean, healthy environment, from the well off to our most vulnerable, with a thriving economy.

Key accomplishments include:

  • 751 housing units in construction or pre-development
  • $24.5 million in Community Development Block Grant Funding
  • Mayor’s CleanUpNOLA Initiative led to 4,447 acres of grass mowed, 647 trees trimmed, and removal of illegal signs on targeted major corridors
  • Expansion of the Mayor’s Office of Human Rights and Equity and Human Rights Charter Amendment Approval
  • Continued improvement in Parish health rankings (36th in 2019, up from 60th in 2011)
  • Secured $7.3 million grant for Union Passenger Terminal from Federal Railroad Administration with Regional Planning Commission, NOBC, and Amtrak
    City-wide bike planning effort for Moving New Orleans Bikes Blueprint plan for connected bikeway network
  • Parks Millage approval increased funding to parks citywide that increased funding for the New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission and Parks and Parkways with first-time City funding for City Park
  • Passage of charter change to create a Human Rights Commission to address discrimination complaints

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Cantrell Administration has focused its economic development efforts to ensure an economy that works for every New Orleanian. This means focusing on inter-generational economic development, place-based development, workforce development, maximizing public-private partnerships, and investing in our people.

Key accomplishments include:

  • Amnesty Late Fee Forgiveness Program that waived $1.3 million in penalties/interest charges to business owners in arrears for sales tax, licenses and permits
  • Provided 1,400 new job seekers with employment and training services, of which 71 participated in the STRIVE Work Readiness Program
  • $29 million Drive Shack scheduled to open in late 2020 and create 350 jobs
  • $30 million Dixie Brewery is scheduled to open in early 2020, creating 60 new jobs in New Orleans East
  • Employed 660 youth, of which 100 were system-involved youth, in the Mayor’s 2019 Summer Youth Employment Program through traditional placements, internships and educational programs
  • Created the BuildNOLAMobilization Fund, which provides a $250,000 loan loss, leveraging more than $5 million from Kresge, JP Morgan Chase, and Liberty bank; the Mobilization Fund, managed by Newcorp, Inc., provides access to capital for entrepreneurs of color and women to participate in public infrastructure projects
  • Allowed small businesses and DBEs to bid on contracts from the City as prime contractors from $20,000 to $5 million, no longer limiting them to being only sub-contractors

CULTURE CHANGE

Mayor Cantrell believes in government that works better for everyone, with transparency and accountability at the heart of all of our work as we seek to change the culture at City Hall. This also means looking at our culture through a sharp equity lens so that we are cultivating a more welcoming, inclusive workforce to serve all of our residents.

Key accomplishments include:

  • Civil Service Department collaborated with the City’s Technology Division to establish a dashboard that provides a snapshot of the Department’s performance on a real-time basis. New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission provided 170 coaches and volunteer with sports-specific safety training and child sexual abuse prevention training.
  • The City received an upgraded bond rating from Moody’s Investor Service to an A2 rating from A3, demonstrating the city’s commitment to financial stabilization
  • ITI successfully transitioned NOLA 311 to OPCD without any interruption in service; completed over 19,000 service requests from City employees
  • Orleans Parish Communication District consolidated 311 and 911 services, saving the City approximately $900,000 annually
  • Neighborhood Engagement Office attended, coordinated and/or presented at close to 600 community meetings while expanding on Community Office Hours initiative (and engaged more than 1,000 residents)
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