Bossier City has done a great many things. All you have to do is look at the last edition of our publication to see how the East Bank District’s opening turned a blighted, ignored area into a vibrant downtown.
But not everyone bats 1.000.
Late last month, the City of Bossier City Council defeated a proposal that would have removed the burden of paying for watering city-owned property off the backs of businesses and residents.
Specifically, the ordinance in question was the restoration of the 1993 Landscape Beautification Initiative. It has the city provide water on public right-of-ways that were landscaped, with an irrigation system, and maintained by the private sector.
It was voted down 5-2.
At-large Councilman Tim Larkin was the one seeking to get this initiative going again. According to the Bossier Press-Tribune’s story in the Nov. 29 edition, Larkin said the idea was to encourage the private sector to invest and participate in city beautification.
“It didn’t make very much sense to me why we stopped it,” Larkin said at the meeting. “The expense has moved from everyone to just the folks near these right-of-ways.”
Terry Petzold of the Stonebridge Community Association spoke in support of the ordinance on behalf of his subdivision’s residents, saying, “We’ve got to have this ordinance to move forward. Without it, you are duping communities to put the cost of the water on the homeowners.”
City Attorney Jimmy Hall said the initiative was abandoned was because it had exceeded the original expectations.
On the surface, this comes off as the city putting costs on the backs of specific residents and businesses. Taxpayers of and investors in Bossier City will continue to have more costs that will go towards improving city-owned land.
And in a world where every single dime matters towards attracting new businesses, and residents, that extra cost on their meters may mean they don’t come here.
The argument can be made that if the city did pass this ordinance, water rates would go up across the board for everyone. Well, shouldn’t that be how it works? If it’s “city-owned” land, and “the city” benefits from it, then “the city” should pay for it. Note: I say this as a resident of Bossier City.
If we want nice things, we have to pay for them.
Besides, doing the math, I think residents’ water bills would increase dozens of cents when spread across all 60,000 people. I can’t see pitchforks and torches over that. Especially when it’s noted that it’s unfair for certain people to pay for land that isn’t theirs.
I say all this with the caveat that I’m not stupid. Would a business ever get to the site location phase of a project, see their prospective water bill and throw in the towel on moving to Bossier City because of this? Probably not. But if someone explained to them that the greenspace in front of their building wouldn’t be theirs AND they would have to pay to keep it that way? Well at the very least, you’ll get the smallest amount of lawn available by city ordinance. Or just maybe they go somewhere with cheaper utilities.
According to the BPT article, Larkin said he thought the evidence of the initiative’s success is in more than 100 beautification projects around the city launched in the 24 years of the program.
“This ordinance was the beginning if the beautiful city we have today,” Larkin said. “This new ordinance was written to bring that spirit back.”
Too bad we’ll end up with more concrete. Or even worse, empty space.
Sean Green is Publisher and Editor of BIZ.