By John Settle, submitted
The Shreveport City Council adopted the 2018 city budget on Tuesday.
In the process, the council voted to fund a five percent pay raise to city employees with an annual salary under $75,000 a year, while providing $150,000 to pay the three percent health insurance increase in 2018 for city employees.
They also approved to reduce the proposed funding of the Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) by $195,000 and appropriate $150,000 for a economic disparity study.
The employee pay raise is the first overall raise for city employees since 2007.
The decrease in the MPC’s proposed funding level was the direct result of the MPC Financial Sustainability Studies. This report concluded appropriate funding of this separate government entity be 75 percent by the city and 25 percent by the Parish.
Dollar wise, this formula equated to $400,000 from the Parish.
The proposed 2018 city budget included the 2017 funding level of $1,083,400 for the MPC. The motion to reduce this amount by $195,000 was made by Councilman Oliver Jenkins and it passed 5 to 2.
The net result of the commission and council votes is a $212,000 total 2018 budget cut for the MPC from the 2017 funding levels.
The economic disparity study aims to provide documentation that would support quotas on public contracts for minority disadvantaged businesses versus goals. With supporting studies, courts in other parts of the nation have upheld quotas. Currently the city has a Fair Share Program that sets goals, not quotas.
The motion to pay the health insurance increase was the subject of extended discussion with concerns that an expected 2019 health insurance increase would lead to a substantial net increase to city employees without an additional budget subsidy. The administration argued that the subsidy will insure a full five percent pay raise not reduced by the premium increase.