Liz Swaine | Downtown Development Authority
It has been an active week legislatively and a number of state and local decisions will be changing the way businesses are operated. At the state level, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Committee took up the issue of state historic tax credits (HTC) last Thursday, and the outcome was much less than we hoped.
HTCs have long been one of the most important development incentives offered in Downtown Development and Cultural Districts across the state. The state credit often makes the dollars and cents of historic renovation work and has helped return countless vacant and underutilized buildings to commerce. HTCs are currently due to sunset (be phased out) in December of 2021 and the Downtown Development Authority has been working with a consortium from around the state to extend them. Our efforts to date have been only partially successful due to some very challenging Senate amendments. We will be working to encourage some changes to the amendments in conference committee and move on to final passage.
To Puff or Not to Puff?
At its last meeting, the Shreveport City Council voted on a wide-ranging city-wide smoking ban. Shreveport’s casino boats were not included in the original ordinance but were added in a late amendment that caught many off guard. Boats already hard-hit by COVID-19 and competition from Oklahoma gaming properties are concerned about the loss of additional revenue. Meanwhile, word is that the smoking ordinance is creating problems for an impending sale of Eldorado Casino and Resort. Compounding the issue is that the City’s General Fund depends upon the significant casino tax dollars paid into the city’s Riverfront Development Fund (RDF), which is then transferred to the General Fund. The amount of the RDF has ranged from a high of $11m to a more recent $8m. There is some discussion of a possible 6-month moratorium to give the Shreveport boats the opportunity to revamp business models and marketing plans to the new non-smoking ‘normal.’
Digital Cameras Requirement for All Businesses That Sell Any Item?The DDA is asking members of the Shreveport City Council to vote to oppose Ordinance 71 at the June 23 council meeting. The ordinance will require ALL businesses in Shreveport that sell ‘goods’ to have a ‘digital camera system capable of transferring video to a widely used, portable form of media. The cameras shall be positioned to record all entrances and exits, all stairways and elevators, all points of sale, all parking lots, and all fueling areas, including the faces of persons located in each of those areas. The cameras shall be in operation and recording any time the establishment is open for business and for one hour after closing, and shall record video indexed by date and time at a resolution of at least 1080p high definition. All recorded video shall be maintained for at least 30 days and shall be made readily available to law enforcement upon request.’ The ordinance mandates that businesses shall have this system installed by Aug. 1, 2020. In an email to the councilmembers, we shared the belief that the timing of this ordinance is terrible and mandating businesses to spend money they do not have could lead to even more closings.
For more information, visit www.downtownshreveport.com and the Shreveport DDA Facebook page.