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Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn't any money shown as spent in 2013 or 2014?

Our site shows the audited actual spending amounts for each department. This means we wait until the budget has been reviewed by independent auditors, a process which begins after the fiscal year has ended and takes a full year to complete. Though it's a long wait, this ensures we're reporting the most accurate numbers available.

Why are appropriations often so much higher than expenditures?

The rules of accounting for federal funds such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and FEMA funds require that all available dollars for a department are shown as appropriated for the year, even if the city plans to spread those funds out over several years. For example, if a $5 million dollar grant is awarded to be spent over five years, the entire amount still appears as an appropriation in the first year. Because of this, we show far more money as appropriated than the department plans to spend in that particular year.

How does the City of New Orleans budget its money each year?

The budget process begins in the first quarter of the fiscal year with a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference to determine how much money the city will have to spend each year.

In late May to early June, city department heads submit offers, like a wish list detailing the projects they hope to fund this year. The results team review the offers before passing them along to the budget team and Chief Administrative Office. After receiving feedback, the department heads submit revised offers in the later part of July. After the final offers are received, the Chief Administration Office ranks the offers, deciding what, realistically, we can prioritize for funding in the budget.

In August, Mayor Mitch Landrieu hosts his Budgeting for Outcomes meetings in each city council district. At these meetings, residents offer their ideas for budget priorities.

After taking everything into consideration, the administration provides City Council with a draft budget in mid-October. Council must approve the budget by December 1. After approval by Council, the new budget goes into effect on January 1.

Where did these numbers come from?

All data shown is taken from the approved budget books from the City of New Orleans. Many are available for review here.

How are funds and departments divided?

From the uppermost level, money is broken down by General Fund and Other Funds. All departments are broken down into "Results Areas," categories created by the Nagin administration as a part of the "Budgeting for Outcomes" process and still used today. Through this process, the city prioritizes departmental spending by area, such as Children and Families or Open and Effective Government. These results areas do not reflect actual funds as exist in the budget.

What makes up the General Fund?

The General Fund is made up of local sales tax, property tax, fines, fees related to permitting, and other local revenues.

What are Other Funds?

Other funds are monies from local, state, federal or private sources that have specific purposes. For example, a local millage that can only be spent on the library system, or a federal grant to fund a police initiative. All Enterprise Funds are classified as "Other Funds."

What isn't shown here?

Because of the unique organization of New Orleans city government, many entities that would typically appear in a city budget are not present in the version approved by City Hall each year. These public/private entities do in fact use tax dollars to run, but approve their own budgets.

Entities not included in these figures include but are not limited to the Sewerage and Water Board, Orleans Parish School Board, Recovery School District, Orleans Levee Board, Regional Transit Authority, BioDistrict New Orleans Board of Commissioners, Downtown Development District, Canal St. Development Corporation, Regional Planning Commission, Board of Liquidation, Housing Authority of New Orleans, or New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.