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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024

Increases, a Strikeout and a Win

Mixed news for Shreveport residents

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux’s administration recently mailed information to city residents to help them understand proposed changes to their water bills.

Arceneaux has recommended a 10% increase in water and sewer rates to keep up with increased costs for supporting and maintaining the water and sewer systems.

But that does not mean everyone’s water bill will increase by a flat 10%. That’s what Arceneaux set out to explain in the mailer.

“The main thing I wanted to do is let people see how they might be able to calculate how it would impact them,” he said. “It doesn’t affect the whole water bill because there are things on there that aren’t water and sewer rates.

“If you look at that mailer, there’s a monthly water charge, a quantity water charge, a monthly sewer charge, and a quantity sewer charge, and then there is the subtotal. The 10% would apply to the subtotal. It doesn’t apply to the things underneath the subtotal.”

Arceneaux said he has done the math on his personal water bill and anticipates a 9% increase at his house.

“I calculated it,” he said. “It increases it by about 9%. You can make those calculations based on 2,000, 4,000, 6,000, and everybody’s sewer charge is different, except for the minimum.”

Arceneaux also said the city is working to make it easier for residents who need assistance paying their water bills.

“We are going to make some changes in the Shreveport Water Assistance Program that we hope will cause more people to use it and will make it more effective,” he said.

The mayor called SWAP a very underutilized resource for low-income residents.

“It’s money that we set aside,” Arceneaux said. “There’s half a million dollars, and very little of it is being used. I think less than $50,000 of $500,000 was used in 2023. Obviously, it either doesn’t help enough people or it’s hard to do. We are going to work on those things.”

Proposal for Fair Grounds Field strikes out

Speaking of doing the math, Arceneaux announced that the proposed plan to create a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue at the site of Fair Grounds Field didn’t add up to a win for Shreveport.

The City of Shreveport and REV Entertainment partnered in October 2022 on project plans, including restaurants, a bar and a hotel. Based in Texas, REV manages events and venues for clients, including Globe Life Field and Choctaw Stadium in Arlington and the Texas Rangers.

“When we first started with REV, we thought that project was going to be in the $50-million to $70-million range,” Arceneaux said. “It ended up being $105 million. So that was a big impact. And then interest rates tripled. The cost of that grew so much — both the cost of the money and the cost of the project itself — that it was simply not feasible to do.”

Arceneaux lauded the team at REV for its efforts on the proposal.

“They would have been great partners,” he said. “It would have been a great project, but it was not a project the city could afford. I think they realized it. And we realized it. We have great respect for them.

In fact, that’s what some of the delay was. I wanted to make sure they had a chance to respond to the report. I wanted to make sure that when it appeared to us that we were not going to move forward that we were able to portray them in the most favorable light given those circumstances. It was not because REV wasn’t a good partner. They would have been an outstanding partner. They realized it was more that we could do.”

So, what’s next for Fair Grounds Field? “Absent someone coming up with a whole lot of money, and protecting the city against its losses, Fair Grounds Field is going to be demolished,” Arceneaux said. “It’s just so far gone. Our information is that the best thing to do is to demolish it and start over. That’s a bond project that was not selected by the committee, so that would be some years off, if ever.”

50 Cent planning event

After officially completing a lease agreement with the city, rapper and entrepreneur Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has announced his next step in bringing his G-Unit Film & Television production company to the city-owned Millennium Studios at 300 Douglas Street in downtown Shreveport.

Jackson recently posted on Instagram that, in his words, “April 19, 20, 21, all roads lead to SHREVEPORT Ribbon cutting.”

Arceneaux said city employees are working to see that it happens.

“The event that he is planning would be a major event at Independence Stadium,” Arceneaux said. “We currently have a water main out at Independence Stadium, and it’s a water main that’s 40 feet in the air. So it’s quite expensive and quite extensive to do. We are staying in touch with him about that date. We would like to do it. But that date, we’re concerned about our ability to have the stadium ready by then.”


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