Opponents balk at size of funding request made to City Council
New Orleans Pretrial Services' request for a $623,000 budget for 2013 touched off a firestorm of public comment at Tuesday's City Council budget hearings.
Local pastor Tom Watson urged the Council not to grant the funding request, saying, "We have local people who can go to the jails and do the same job for a lot less."
The non-profit Vera Institute of Justice runs pretrial services. It received $200,000 from the city in 2012, but for 2013, the city is proposing to cut that amount by 8 percent, to $184,000. Officials with the program say they couldn't continue to operate it at that level.
Watson told the Council before granting Vera's funding request, it should consider allocating more funding for youth and family service programs.
"The very high-salaried staff at places such as the Vera Institute should not be supported with my or your tax dollars," Watson said.
Another opponent told the Council, "This is a key example where our city employees could be paid a fair salary that's a lot less than this budget request to do exactly the same if not even better work."