'New Orleans is hurting' | City Hall to cut all departments by 20%, Cantrell says

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“That is just a very small yet tangible example of how even the money that was set aside for municipalities — we’re not getting our fair share,” said Cantrell.

NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans is now trying to identify where it can cut its workforce.  On Friday afternoon, Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced that all departments are facing a 20-percent reduction.  

“We’re hurting. The City of New Orleans is hurting.  I’m going to have to make those tough decisions, just like we are seeing our businesses having to make those tough decisions,” said Mayor Cantrell.  

Cantrell is referring to the estimated 1500 layoffs at some of the city’s most recognizable restaurants and hotels.  The COVID-19 pandemic is choking the tourism industry in New Orleans and the city projects a loss of $100 million to $140 million in potential revenue.  Cantrell said there’s not enough money to keep everything operating as is.  

“Our tax revenues are not sufficient. We’re having to make these tough decisions, so all our departments, we’re looking at a 20-percent reduction.  Based on that 20-percent we’re now identifying what that will mean as it relates to an employee,” said Cantrell.  

That formal kind of language has been heard in many offices and businesses, with workers often left worried about their jobs.  Now, that’s coming to City Hall.  Cantrell said complicating matters is the money that was supposed to come to the city from the federal government.  Through the CARES ACT, Congress dedicated $2 trillion to help state and local governments handle the pandemic, but Cantrell says New Orleans is getting short-changed.       

“Our expense was $27 million. We’ll be reimbursed $9-million.  That is just a very small yet tangible example of how even the money that was set aside for municipalities — we’re not getting our fair share,” said Cantrell.   

Congress is debating another relief package.  Priorities are being placed on unemployed Americans and propping up schools for reopening.  It’s unclear how much aid will go to struggling states and cities.  

“What about funding for state and local and tribal governments? Their budgets are in the tank, we’re approaching a new month.   Many, many, many essential workers will be laid off,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY.  

Like past disasters, we are now relying on help from the federal government.  We recently met Ella Williams Carr at a food distribution in the Seventh Ward.  She said if we’re waiting on help from Washington, we’re in trouble.  

“I don’t have any faith in the government when it comes to helping us, if we’re waiting around for them, so that’s all I could say about that,” said Williams Carr.   

Williams Carr said she gained that skepticism in the aftermath of the federal government’s response during Hurricane Katrina.  Unlike the storm, the pandemic’s impact is global.  While the impending layoffs at City Hall will be painful, they will not be unique.  

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