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Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023

Year-End City Matters


Budget decisions, crime are top priorities

As 2023 draws to a close, it is a time of great expectation. It is a time of great anticipation, too. That’s how Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux felt last week as he looked ahead to the remainder of this year.

The Shreveport City Council is expected to pass the 2024 budget at its meeting this week. The council is also expected to approve the lease of the former Millennium Studios building to Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unity production company.

Also, the Citizens Capital Improvements study committee is expected to complete its list of projects for bond proposals to be put on an upcoming ballot to fund capital improvement projects in the city.

But Arceneaux was not sitting idle, just waiting to see what would transpire.

“I am meeting with council members about budget issues,” he said last week. “Water rate increases, the additional garbage fee, which could end up being called something else. I still think we will do the deal with 50 Cent. But the city will pass a budget.”

The mayor also is considering the public safety issue of crime in Shreveport, particularly violent crimes.

“I am as concerned as anyone else about crime, and we are taking actions to prevent crime to the extent that we can,” he said. “Most of our job is apprehending criminals. We are usually not in a position, and if we had twice the number of police officers we have, we would not be in a position to be in place to prevent most of the homicides and other violent criminal acts that have occurred during this year.”

Arceneaux said he would prefer to be in a more preventive mode.

“I wish that weren’t the case. I wish we had more intelligence sources ahead of time to know when these things are going to occur,” he said. “I am aware that our intelligence did prevent one serious incident that I am not going to describe. Our intelligence was accurate, and we probably were able to prevent several homicides as a result of action by the Shreveport Police Department.”

He said he is glad Shreveport police do not fight crime in a bubble.

“We are in total cooperation with the sheriff’s office, the district attorney’s office, the U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI, the DEA and the Louisiana State Police,” Arceneaux said. “That is ongoing. It’s something we do every day.”

Arceneaux added that his budget priorities reflect his desire to stay vigilant in fighting crime, including retaining police officers.

“We are doing everything we having within our power to combat crime,” he said. “But most of what we do is investigate crimes that have already happen. We continue to do that. We have the resources to do that. We are seeking additional resources. Some of that is a long-term issue, and we are proposing some retention and increase in pay.”

Like other matters in the city, what can be done for the police department will depend on what happens with the budget. That could lead to some tough decisions being made, the mayor said.

“Some of that is going to be determined by budget decisions,” Arceneaux said.

“We will find out how those go. If we want to devote more resources to police, we are going to have to increase our revenues. I have proposed that in hoped that the council will support it. If the council does not support it, then I am going to have to make some very difficult decisions that are not in line with my personal priorities. And that’s how that’s going to go.”


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