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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Stemming the Violence

Also: Dealing with the city’s financial issues

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux has a pointed message for “a group of lawless people” whose violent acts affect the rest of the community.

“Just stop it,” he said. Arceneaux was joined by area law enforcement agencies and others at a news conference on the street in downtown Shreveport on March 25 to address recent shootings in Shreveport.

“It appears to me we have groups of people who are shooting at each other and retaliating,” he said in his office days later. “Unfortunately, there are some people who have gotten caught in the crossfire of that. That is very regrettable.”

He said he is getting questions about the violence everywhere he goes.

“I spoke to a group of third-graders last week,” Arceneaux said, “and they asked me about some of this violence. I said, ‘Every single one of these incidents hurts my soul. Every person who’s injured, every person who’s frightened, every person who’s murdered is a part of our community. I feel every one of those things. So we are doing everything we know to do, and asking for every bit of help that we know to ask for to address the violence in our community.’”

The city is getting that help, too, Areceneaux said. Representatives from the Louisiana State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Shreveport City Marshal’s Office joined the mayor at the news conference.

“Everybody who can participate in this is not only able to participate but eager to participate in trying to bring these things to an end,” Arceneaux said. “We pray that those things will be brought to an end, and soon.”

In the meantime, he is grateful for the work being done to stem the violence.

“I believe the Shreveport police are doing a good job of apprehending the people who are responsible for this,” he said. “And then I think the DA is doing a good job of prosecuting the people for it. Unfortunately, we have to be on the back end of that process, and there are a whole lot of other factors that affect the front end of that process.”

Money Matters

Arceneaux has been addressing a number of financial issues for the city, chief among them an upcoming ballot measure to reauthorize six expired tax millages that amount to about $12.5 million in the city’s budget.

The mayor is making a series of public appearances in support of the millages. He said he would continue to campaign for them.

“I’ll be talking about this to as many people who will listen to me,” he said. “I think the council members are in support, and they will be out there as well. Millages are very important. Those are appropriated dollars, so it would be very difficult for us should those millages not pass for this year and the next four years after this.”

Arceneaux said the millages have been well received at the meetings.

“I haven’t had anybody say, ‘I’m not going to vote for it,’” he said. “Most of the people say they understand and are in favor of it. Hopefully, that trend will continue, and we’ll have those passed on April 29.”

Arceneaux has also presented to the Shreveport City Council budget amendments that reflect some differences in the administration’s priorities.

Those amendments include doubling the amount of money allocated for litter abatement and money to repair and replace street lights across the city. It also includes doubling the amount for demolition of properties subject to demolition pursuant to the property standards code.

“Our goal in that is to make sure that people know that we will, in fact, tear your building down if you don’t bring it up to code, hopefully to encourage renewed compliance with the property standards code,” he said.

The budget amendments also include about $9.5 million for streets projects. Those funds are needed to cover the costs of projects previously approved in bond elections.

“Unfortunately, many of the projects that were subject to a prior bond election, when the estimates came in, and when the bids came in, they were much higher,” he said. “Partly because of inflation, and partly because they were just old estimates. We are starting to do those.

“We’re trying to get to things that the citizens wanted us to do and that the citizens voted for us to do, that we haven’t been able to do yet.”

Those budget amendments are set to be voted on at the city council’s April 11 meeting.

“These were some of the things that I campaigned on,” Arceneaux said. “These are the first set of budget amendments, and hopefully, the city council will pass those.”

News and notes

Also expected on the April 11 council agenda is a vote on the appointments of Interim Chief Administrative Officer Tom Dark and Interim Chief Financial Officer Sherricka Fields Jones to those positions permanently.

Arceneaux also continues to meet with REV Entertainment about the company’s proposal to build a stadium and bring an independent baseball team to town. He said the city is accepting Requests for Proposals for a consultant to consider the project’s feasibility and help structure any financing for the project.

“With REV, it’s yes until it’s no,” Arceneaux said. “The thing about REV, it isn’t a stadium deal. It’s a transformation of a neighborhood and transformation of the Fairgrounds. That’s what we are seeking to do.”


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