Settle: Shreveport tax renewals face uphill battle

In the “good ole days”, tax renewals for basic government services were generally a slam dunk for voter approval.

Those days have changed, as witnessed by the defeat of several Caddo Commission renewals last year.

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler has called a special election on April 28 to renew ad valorem taxes.  These five year renewals for basic city services expired on Dec. 31, 2017. Tyler decided to not seek these renewals last fall.

The Tyler administration is stressing that the renewals are “essential for maintaining basic city services.” These services include for street repairs, SPAR recreational facilities, police and fire uniforms, and city employee salaries, pensions and health insurance.

If passed the renewals should generate more than $11 million bucks a year. This amount equates to 5-percent of the city’s total $221 million general fund budget.

This decision could be a big mistake as these renewals could face voter displeasure.

The first being the word “tax” itself.

Many citizens vote not only with their pocketbooks, but also their perception of their quality of life. Crime, especially violent crimes, has increased during Tyler’s administration.

Other citizens have a growing concern that Shreveport’s economy is stagnant and that too many “good” jobs land on the east side of the river.

The approval of the tax renewals should not be considered a given. Additionally, many voters may selectively decide on each of the six tax propositions.

That also might include the mayor and city council elections.

John Settle is a Shreveport-Bossier attorney and political columnist