Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler had a lot to lose if the April 28 tax propositions had failed. How much she had to gain if the taxes were approved is an open question.
All six propositions passed. These taxes, which had been on the books for 40 years, help fund basic city services and employee benefits for police and fire.
The taxes actually expired at the end of last year. Many citizens questioned Tyler’s decision to have the propositions on the ballot this year versus last fall.
Shreveport has almost 125,000 registered voters. The voter turnout was approximately 8 percent.
Interestingly enough, the voters were selective in casting their votes.
The largest number of voters pulled levers on proposition #1 for improving, repairing and maintaining city streets (10,040 voters). Proposition #5 for pension, life insurance, and hospitalization for city employees was the least popular tax (9,954 voters).
Percentage wise, Proposition #4 for salaries, uniforms and equipment for police and fire departments had the largest margin of approval (69%). The tax for city parks and recreation maintenance and operations had the lowest voter approval (64%).
Tyler campaigned vigorously for the tax approvals, making over 30 presentations to civic groups and neighborhood meetings.
The propositions were endorsed by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, the Committee of 100, and the Shreveport Times.
This writer also endorsed the taxes and ads supporting the taxes were also placed by this writer in the Shreveport Times.
As expected, the tax propositions drew heated opposition from many citizens, especially on social media.
Most voters who opposed the taxes were either anti-government or anti-Ollie.
In the first instance, evidently the “naysayers” do not believe that the primary purpose of government is to provide basic services to citizens. In the second, the “opposers” seemingly were confusing the tax propositions with the mayoral election in November.
On the Thursday before the tax vote (April 26), Adrian Perkins announced his candidacy. He did not comment on the propositions.
The Saturday of the vote, Lee O. Savage made his announcement at an afternoon event. Savage advised the crowd that he had voted no on the taxes.
Naturally, Tyler was very happy that all the taxes were approved. She said that “the citizens had the confidence that we’re doing what we said we were going to do.”
Evidently, Tyler believes the passage of the taxes will be a springboard for her re-election campaign. She stated in a post election interview that she was going to run on her accomplishments.
Most political observers do not believe that the passage of the taxes will translate into voter goodwill in November.
John Settle is a political columnist based in Shreveport-Bossier.