Aug 10, 2023

City owes millions in unpaid bills, councilmember says

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NEW ORLEANS — This week New Orleans City Councilmembers revealed some city vendors are not being paid for their work. Some teens who were involved in the city’s summer internship program are also missing checks.

After multiple requests for more information, Wednesday was the first time we heard from Mayor Cantrell about the city’s outstanding invoices. Mayor Cantrell said she doesn’t know anything about city vendors not being paid, but said they are working to get the teens paid.

“We are going to and we are doing everything possible to not only address the data collection and making sure it’s we have accuracy there and getting checks cut to our young people that’s our priority,” Mayor Cantrell said.

Despite the ongoing allegations of not paying their bills, at least one vendor is very willing to do work with the city. Wednesday, the city unveiled a partnership with Safe Wash Solutions to address abatement and graffiti.

Safe Wash solutions says they’re not worried about their paychecks.

“They’ve been so responsive so professional I can’t see how they wouldn’t. It’s been a joy working with everyone we’ve been working with and I can tell you from past experience with some other contracts we have with the city, we have been paid on time every time,” CEO of the company, Ciana McDaniel said.

While Safe Wash Solutions says they’ve had a positive experience working with the city, some councilmembers say some city vendors are owed millions for projects that have been completed for months now.

“There’s one firm who’s owed $7 million for projects completed in 2022,” Councilmember Helena Moreno said Tuesday.

Moreno said it’s gotten so bad, she’s moving to call in the legislative auditor to look at the city’s accounts and payment system. Mayor Cantrell says they’re willing to comply with the investigation, but it’s not needed.

“This particular city council, that’s all they’ve been about quite frankly. It’s been a waste of time, it’s been a waste of money but at the end of the day if it proves practice are effective or practices can be improved upon then I’m all for it,” Mayor Cantrell said.

Moreno says brining in the legislative auditor is the only way to ensure the information is handed over.