New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has begun his annual round of community meetings to set budget priorities for the coming year. Some suggestions range from fixing streets to using the shuttered Charity Hospital as a new City Hall.
Mayor Landrieu has held these community meetings throughout the city as his administration figures out what to fund — and by how much. He calls it "budgeting for outcomes." And, as University of New Orleans political science professor Ed Chervenak explains, it’s what more and more cities are doing.
“It’s basically a way to reinvent government, to think more about getting more for your dollar, getting bureaucrats to respond to people not as clients but as customers," says Chervenak. "Budgeting for outcomes means, ‘Okay. Set your priorities and then devote the resources to those priorities that people want.'”
Chervenak says Landrieu was told in recent years that the recreation department needed improvement, and it was made a priority. At the start of this year’s round, he was told to set aside more money for the fire department and mental health services. One woman suggested the present City Hall is falling apart, and relocating to a refurbished Charity Hospital may be a solution. Landrieu said it was a good idea. He took notes on the reports of rough roads and lots covered in high grass.
“That’s what mayors do. Once they’re mayor they own all the problems and the infrastructure,” Chervenak said.
Four more meetings are scheduled in each district this month. The City Council will receive his budget proposal in October.