NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – As hearings continue for Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s proposed 2023 budget, council members are hearing from several departments within the mayor’s office, including the Office of Youth and Families.

The department is seeking about $25 million of the proposed $1.5 billion operating budget.

During Monday’s hearing, Councilman At-Large JP Morrell asked the director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families, Emily Wolff, if the executive order had been presented to the council for ratification.

“I don’t know—if somebody from council relations could respond—but I wouldn’t know,” Wolff answered. Morrell said, “We had our council chief of staff, our council attorney search. There was no forwarding of the executive order.”

Wolff argued the creation of their department was in compliance with the home rule charter, which she says was stated in a response letter to the council.

“The letter also stated that the functions and activities of the Office of Youth and Families were not previously assigned to a department, so the mayor assigned them to her office, the mayor’s office,” Wolff explained.

Councilwoman Lesli Harris questioned how funds were being allocated, citing an empty community center in her district and struggling local nonprofits.

“But if those organizations don’t have money to open and run it, I would think that the city should step in to provide programming for the Keller Center for kids in Central City,” Harris said.

Both Wolff and Harris agreed to set a meeting to figure out how their offices can collaborate.

“I just want to make sure that we are focusing on the kids who need the services the most,” Harris said. Wolff agreed, “Absolutely.”

The budget hearings conclude November 19. The council must adopt a draft by December 1.