Chamber of Commerce wants Shreveport Mayor and City Council to reduce bond issue

A recent email from the Chamber of Commerce could shake up the proposed Shreveport bond issue. Columnist John Settle tells us what's at stake for the city.

The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce recently emailed Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins and the seven Shreveport Council members encouraging them to reduce the proposed $220 million bond project.  The package recommended by the 2019 Citizens’ Bond Committee must be approved by the council on Aug. 13 to be on the Nov. general election ballot.

The Chamber suggested that the council focus on essential capital projects. Specifically, streets, operational sewage, and adequately equipped public safety personnel.

The Chamber also recommended that the city should identify one or two high impact quality of life projects to attract both businesses and families.

The email noted that many projects funded by the 2011 bond package have yet to be started, some are still in-progress, and a many came in over budget. This package was for $45 million less than the current proposal.  The email suggested that rightsizing the package to realistically have timely completion of funded projects.

The Chamber also observed that the many of the previous bond contracts were awarded to out of town companies due to the lack of local capacity for the volume of bond work. And the same was true for Fair Share contractors.

The email expressed concern over the understaffed city engineer’s office and the impact of awarding bond contracts and then effectively monitoring them. The EPA consent decree mandated projects has exacerbated this challenge.

Moneys in the 2011 bond package for streets was allocated equally to the seven council districts, to be spent as requested by each council member. The Chamber urged that most of street bond funds be dedicated to larger street projects with the city.

Lastly, the Chamber offered to host a public input session or to assist the City to coordinate meetings throughout the City.