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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Replacing Tax Millages

Also: Traffic cameras, Amtrak and baseball

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux is doing what any administrator must do when faced with the prospect of losing resources: weighing his options for replacing those resources while also considering the impact if they go away permanently.

At the beginning of the year, six city of Shreveport tax millages expired after their renewals were omitted from the ballot last year.

These were not new taxes for city residents. The oldest of these millages was enacted in 1941, the most recent in 1970. Because they were allowed to expire instead of being renewed, voters must approve them again when they are on the ballot on April 29.

“These are very old matters that are designed for basic support for basic services in the city of Shreveport,” Arceneaux said. “That is important for the public to know well in advance of the election on the 29th of April. Not only are these not new taxes, they are very old taxes.”

The following millages will be on the ballot:

• 1.13 mills for streets, totaling $1,761,400

• 0.84 mills for recreation facilities, totaling $1,309,300

• 1.13 mills for city wages and salaries, totaling $1,761,400

• 1.13 mills for police and fire uniforms and equipment, totaling $1,761,400

• 1.7 mills for pensions for city employees, totaling $2,649,000

• 1.48 mills for a three-platoon system for Shreveport Police, totaling $2,307,000

The millages total 7.42 mills, more than $11.5 million in the city’s budget.

“These funds were included in the 2023 budget,” Arceneaux said. “Should this not pass on the 29th of April, we will have to cut that much money out of those items for the 2023 budget. It’s very serious and important that we pass these taxes.”

Back in the zone

Students are back in school across the city after Spring Break. While the students were away, the city went to work trying to resolve some longstanding issues with automated school zone enforcement cameras operated under a city contract with Blue Line Solutions.

The Shreveport City Council last week approved an ordinance that removed a required $50 deposit to appeal any ticket issued by the Blue Line cameras.

As classes resumed this week, new signs have gone up in the school zones that accurately post the hours of enforcement in each individual monitored zone.

Where the cameras are effective, the school zones will be two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

The specific hours for each school zone vary based on the school’s take-in and letout times. Elementary school zones will be enforced from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. School zones for middle and K-8 schools will be from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

High school zones will be enforced from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Afternoon enforcement in the high school zones will be the exception to the two-hour rule, Arceneaux said. They will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

“We didn’t want to have any school zones after 4:30 in the afternoon,” he said. “That’s commuting time, and we just decided to cut that short.”

Arceneaux said Calvary Baptist Academy on Linwood Avenue is the only private school where school zone cameras are in place. He said the same two-hour windows are in place – from one hour before school begins until one hour after school begins, then from one hour before school lets out until one hour after school lets out in the afternoon.

Still on track

Mayor Arceneaux and the Shreveport City Council are doing their part to advance a plan to bring passenger rail service across north Louisiana with an Amtrak line connecting Dallas to Atlanta.

The council authorized and Arceneaux signed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to accompany a grant application to create stops along the route in Shreveport, Monroe, Ruston and Vicksburg, Miss.

“The grant is a four-mayor grant,” he said. “We have congressional support from Mississippi and Louisiana. We think our chances of that are very good.”

The route also will utilize stops in Jackson and Meridian, Miss.

Arceneaux is planning to go to Washington, D.C., in mid-April to meet with federal lawmakers to advance the matter.

He added that Amtrak also has gotten involved in the grant application process.

“We’re hoping they will be involved with our application, rather than making their own application,” Arceneaux said. “We’re meeting with Amtrak to try to get us all on the same page, either us joining them or them joining with us, so that we don’t have two different grant applications out there.”

Play ball

Arceneaux also continues to consider the future of baseball in the city. He is working with city officials to determine the feasibility of REV Entertainment’s proposal to build a stadium and bring an independent baseball team to town. “We’re continuing to work with them,” Arceneaux said. He expected further information could come soon.


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