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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Bond Proposals Approved


Also, ideas for community policing

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux and his administration continue to revel in an overwhelming victory for three bond proposals that will raise $256.4 million for capital improvement projects across the city.

“It was a very affirming result,” Arceneaux said. “Now we have to get to work.”

Shreveport residents voted to approve three bond proposals April 27. Two of those proposals passed with 80% of votes in favor, and the third passed with 78% of the vote. Arceneaux said he thought the city’s efforts to explain how the money would be spent went a long way in garnering unprecedented support.

“I believe this is the largest margin we have ever had,” he said. “We worked very hard to inform the public and get the information out there.”

One tidbit about the results, in particular, struck the mayor.

“I was particularly gratified that the three propositions were approved in every precinct in the city,” he said. “There was wide support from all areas of the city, all races, all political parties.”

Arceneaux said the results send a very clear message from the voters, one that he is grateful for.

“We were extremely pleased, to say the least, and extremely grateful to the citizens of Shreveport for the really large margin of approval,” Arceneaux said. “We think it gives us a mandate to get those projects done and get them done as quickly as we can. That’s what we are currently planning. Priorities. What will go first and what will go second. How to plot that out.”

He added that the city administration has an idea where the work will begin.

“Those are probably going to be the projects that are already designed, or that can be designed quickly,” he said. “It’s likely to be sewer projects. Because of the consent decree, we already have projects that are designed. My guess is we’ll start seeing sewer projects first.”

And when can residents expect to see that work begin?

“I think it will be early 2025 before they actually see shovels turning dirt on projects,” Arceneaux said.

The mayor explained that the process involves selling bonds to raise capital, using the money to plan and execute projects, and then selling another round of bonds.

“I anticipate selling between $80 million and $90 million of bonds in the fall. That’ll give us the first set of money from this particular bond issue.

We would anticipate selling about a third (of the bonds) in 2024, about a third in 2025 and about a third in 2026.”

Arceneaux said some of the money raised in the first round will be used to identify and plan projects for the second round of funding, keeping the cycle going.

“The second group of projects that we will work on will be projects that we want to get into design, so that when we sell the second set of bonds, we’ll be able to move those quickly,” he said. “The second third (of projects) we would want to have designed in the first set of dollars, so that we would be able to move quickly once we have those funds available.”

While the tangible work of the capital-improvement projects is still months away, Arceneaux said plenty of work is already being done behind the scenes. It’s all part of the process.

“We’re currently working on statements of qualification for program managers and Requests for Proposals,” he said. “We need to have program managers. That’s what we committed to do. About budget time, they will start seeing our proposals.”

Improving policing

The mayor and Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith recently traveled to Fort Worth for a day of networking and discovering new ideas for community policing.

Arceneaux and Smith attended a meeting of the Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors May 6. Arceneaux said he came back with several ideas to explore.

“Chief Smith and I went over there and picked up some ideas for how we could do the policing job more effectively,” he said. “I think we are doing an effective job, but how we can do it more effectively, and looking at what other communities are doing. I brought back some ideas that he and I will go over to see about doing a more effective job in the public safety space.”


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