Bond Proposal is an Investment in Our Future
Shreveport is at a crossroads. We have great potential, but we also have our fair share of challenges. We have to decide whether we want a better future, or whether we want our problems to continue to pile up and become even more difficult to solve. These are the stakes when Shreveport citizens head to the polls on Nov. 16 to vote on the 2019 Bond Proposal.
Shreveport’s two biggest challenges are aging infrastructure and depleted resources. There are parts of town with 100-year-old cast-iron water pipes. Shreveport’s police station was built in 1956. It has mold growing above the patrol desk and offices that get as hot as 90 degrees during the summer. More than half of the Shreveport Fire Department’s fleet is over 15 years old, nine trucks are more than 25 years old, and three are 32 years old. The city’s traffic control system is from the 1950s, and Shreveport’s roads are riddled with potholes. We need to reinvest in our crumbling infrastructure to progress as a city.
Shreveport’s second major problem is a lack of resources. Expenditures have risen by less than 2% over the last decade, and my proposed 2020 Executive Budget further cut expenditures by 5% across the board. Nearly 75% of the General Fund is devoted to personnel, and that number is above 90 percent for police and fire, which makes up over half the city’s expenditures ($117M). Simply put: There isn’t enough money in the General Fund to address even one of the issues listed above, let alone all of them. Moreover, there is no more fat to trim from the budget. All that remains to be cut is personnel, which would drastically diminish city services.
The 2019 Bond enables us to address these critical issues. It makes upgrades to our water infrastructure. The bond not only includes $20 million for a new central police station, but it also provides funding for four police substations, which will bring our officers closer to the citizens they serve and make our neighborhoods feel safer.
The bond sets $26.4 million aside for the fire department, enabling us to update their fleet of trucks and replace three stations built more than 50 years ago. Finally, it reinvests $77.86 million in streets and drainage, which includes new roads, money for a modern traffic control system, and infrastructure projects with some specific to the Martin Luther King area.
Shreveport is more than a city. It is our home, and we have to do a better job of taking care of it. Shreveport cannot progress if we do not reinvest. Voters have to decide whether they want to invest in Shreveport’s future or maintain the flagging status quo, but we cannot allow contrarians and conspiracy theorists to determine the outcome of this important vote.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the 2019 Bond. For starters, this is NOT a tax increase. Shreveport property taxes are at a 35-year low, and this bond continues that trend. It reduces taxes. Second, Shreveport does not have excessive debt. Our only general obligation debt is what remains from the 2011 Bond. We have borrowed less than 25% of what we can. The 2019 Bond will bring that number up to about 50 percent, which is a healthy level.
We have to decide the fate of our city: Will we consign ourselves to decline, or will we reinvest in ourselves and work together to build a brighter future? These are the stakes. Detractors with a defeatist attitude will come up with any number of reasons to vote against this bond, but you will not hear them offer solutions. They always forget to explain how we can build a new police station, buy new fire trucks, or repave our roads if the bond fails. We cannot let those who have lost hope take ours, too.
Early voting is Nov. 2-9, and Election Day is Nov. 16. We need everyone to do two things: vote to reinvest in our city and remind others to vote. If you want to learn more about the bond, detailed information can be found at Bond.ShreveportLa.gov. If you want to determine the fate of your city, mark Election Day on your calendar. We cannot afford to watch this opportunity sail by because of low voter turnout. On Nov. 16, share election reminders on social media and text friends and family, reminding them to vote.
The 2019 Bond addresses Shreveport’s critical needs while continuing to lower taxes. However, this election is not just about infrastructure and deferred maintenance. It’s more so about those who chose to stay here and raise their family. It’s an opportunity for those who love Shreveport to reinvest in their home.
The 2019 Shreveport Bond Proposal has been endorsed by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Committee of 100, the Shreveport Fire Chief Edwin Scott Wolverton and Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond, and the Local 514 Fire Union. All Shreveport police officers and employees were electronically polled. 70.2% supported Prop 2 and 29.8 said no (336 respondents).