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Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023

Examining The City’s Needs

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Committee to put bond proposals on ballot

The city of Shreveport is allowing a group of residents to experience first-hand how the local government sausage gets made.

Mayor Tom Arceneaux and Shreveport City Council members have formed a 19-member Citizens Capital Improvements study committee. Each council member appointed two citizens to the committee, and Arceneaux appointed five, including the committee chair, Dr. Larry Clark, retired chancellor of LSU Shreveport.

“He is very eager to get rolling and get the agenda set,” Arceneaux said of Clark.

The mayor expected the committee to hold its first meeting this week.

The city wants to put bond proposals on the ballot to fund improvement projects across the city. The citizens’ study committee will examine the city’s needs, take input from the public, establish priorities and present its recommendations to the mayor and the council.

Because this is not a board set forth by a city ordinance, appointments to the citizen’s study committee are not subject to confirmation. “Once those appointments are made, they are in place,” Arceneaux said. As a public body, the committee does have to follow laws regarding open meetings and public records.

Arceneaux said the city needs to call the election for April 2024 no later than December of this year. The mayor anticipates the committee being done with its work and presenting its recommendations by October.

“We’ll also be going though the budget in that process, so there will be an awful lot in front of the council during that time,” Arceneaux said.

The mayor said the budgeting process will begin soon.

“There will be a good bit of budget information,” he said. “Priorities, the results of the audit findings, that we have a little less money to work with in the operating budget than we thought we did. We’re working on those budget constraints right now.”

Debris pickup wraps up

Arceneaux said picking up debris from across the city after a June 16 storm left heavy damage in its wake is almost complete. But the job is not done.

“Now, the processing part takes a little longer,” he said. “They are still in the process of that.”

The city contracted with Ceres Environmental to remove and process the widespread vegetative debris from the storm. Ceres has made two passes through the town to pick up the debris. Crews are taking the waste to a city-owned and permitted facility, where it will be processed for landfill disposal.

In progress

Arceneaux said progress is being made on several opportunities for Shreveport.

One of those projects is leasing Millennium Studios to Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.

“I think that’s going to go,” he said. “When we had a big rainstorm, we had floodwater intrusion into Millennium, which we needed to abate. That’s the first time water has ever gotten in that studio. We need to figure out why, and we think we have, and we are fixing it.”

Arceneaux said negotiations are continuing with Jackson’s lawyer on the lease, and he remains optimistic about the prospect.

“I still believe it’s going to happen,” Arceneaux said. “We’re working with his lawyer to tie down the terms of the deal. But I believe that is something that’s going to happen. These things just take a little longer than you think when you get down into the weeds of the details.”

Arceneaux said a notice to proceed had been given to Baker Tilley, the consulting firm hired by the city to look at the proposed agreement with REV Entertainment for development at the former Fair Grounds Field site.

“We had our first meeting with them,” he said. “They will be gathering information and will hopefully be getting a report to us within a couple of months. At that point, we’ll know what we think we can do. We’re proceeding with kind of an outline of where we might go with it, in terms of financing. We’re pretty optimistic about that one as well.”

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