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City Staff Furloughs End This Week As New Orleans Figures Out How To Spend $375 Million In Aid

Phoebe Jones
Mayor LaToya Cantrell speaks at a COVID-19 memorial event. Jan. 19, 2021.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell has created a task torce to decide what to do with the $375 million New Orleans expects to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act, she announced Thursday.

In a press conference, Cantrell said the task force will be made up of members of a financial advisory board created at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other stakeholders.

Cantrell said the money will go to financial recovery from the pandemic, which she says could take three to five years.

The city expects the money to be allocated in 60 days, but city employees will not have to wait 60 days to be fully returned to work. Cantrell said furloughs will end at 11:59 p.m. Saturday

“This is not new money to the city,” Chief Operating Officer Gilbert Montano said. “We have to … really look at the denominator of that $375 million and what that means from a deficit perspective.”

Montano said that deficit is made up of money lost in 2020 and the expected losses for 2021 as the pandemic continues.

The city’s first priority is to pay back a $50 million precautionary loan it took out at the beginning of the pandemic. Those funds have not been spent, explained Chief Financial Officer Norman White, but there are interest and closing costs associated with the loan that will need to be paid with the stimulus funds.

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