Saturday, July 13, 2013

Isn't it a little late to be asking these questions?

These home elevation grants, might be a "boondoggle" just as Stacy Head blurted yesterday but all that was really clear from the Lens article that prompted her assertion was that Landrieu's City Hall hasn't been forthcoming with the information necessary to make a determination one way or another.  Yet this hadn't prevented Council from unanimously rubber stamping the requests.

Ordinances 29,586 and 29,587 are good examples of how difficult it can be to scrutinize the budget. They appear to be worth nearly $12 million in federal grant money, but they’re arguably worth only about $2.2. million. They appear to allocate nearly $1 million apiece for flood mitigation on a handful of homes. That turns out not to be the case, but the houses are still receiving large grants.

Ultimately, privacy restrictions on the grants make it impossible to determine exactly how the money is being spent, or whether it’s being spent wisely.

Ordinances 29,586 and 29,587 breezed through committee and onto the council’s consent agenda — a group of noncontroversial items usually approved en bloc — with little attention.

As written, the ordinances appropriate federal grant money totaling $11,798,031 “for elevation of second story conversion and wind retrofit of twelve residential historic structures.”

No more details were provided in the ordinances themselves, and no more from City Budget Director Cary Grant when he presented them to the council’s Budget Committee last month.

“Is there a motion? Second? All in favor? Aye. Ayes have it. Moving right along,” City Councilwoman at-Large Jackie Clarkson said as the committee voted on the item. That was the extent of debate on the two ordinances, which appear to allocate about $980,000 for each of the 12 houses. The ordinances are up for a final vote Thursday.
Funny how that changes as soon as it hits the news.  Guess Jackie's staff is going to have even more stuff to do now.

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