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New Orleanians to Vote on Rainy Day Fund in Upcoming Election

November 8, 2017

Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head
NEW ORLEANS - On November 18, 2017, New Orleans voters will decide whether a portion of the budget should be set aside for use during emergency situations. The "Rainy Day Fund" would be a savings fund within the City budget that could be spent only after a two-thirds majority vote of the City Council and only under clearly defined circumstances. In August 2017, the City Council unanimously supported an ordinance to establish the fund, upon approval of a home rule charter amendment by a majority of the electorate. That ordinance was the culmination of years of work by Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head to protect a portion of the fund balance for unforeseen events.

"This is vital to the City's fiscal health," said Councilmember Head. "Instead of raiding the City's fund balance throughout the year for whatever is popular at the moment, we should plan ahead for the rainy days that we know will come from time to time. This is not a piggy bank that politicians can just break when needed to fill in a budget hole. Likewise, it is not a slush fund for the Administration or the Council to pay for pet projects."

If approved, each year the Council would be required to appropriate five percent of the average of the previous five years of general fund expenditures, which aligns with best practices in other cities. The Council could only spend the restricted funds under the following circumstances: a City Council declaration of emergency; a City Council determination of a significant loss of revenue due to the economic downturn of serious proportions; and/or a lawful mandate by the United States Government. Additionally, a two-thirds majority vote would be required to spend any of the rainy day funds.

According to a report by Pew Charitable Trusts, credit rating agencies like to see budget stabilizing measures such as rainy day funds and have increased bond ratings for states that established similar funds and set out clear and responsible rules for accessing those funds. Importantly, high credit ratings reduce the cost to taxpayers of borrowing money for large capital projects.
New Orleanians can vote early today, November 8, through Saturday, November 11, with the exception of Friday, November 10. Election Day is Saturday, November 18. For a list of designated early voting sites in Orleans Parish, click here.


Katie Baudouin
Policy Advisor/Special Projects
Office of Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head

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