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 December 31, 2017.
Tyler decided to not seek these renewals last fall. This decision could be a big mistake, both for the renewals and her upcoming bid to be re-elected for a second term as mayor.
The Tyler administration is stressing that the renewals are “essential for maintaining basic city services.” These services include 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% of the city’s total $221 million general fund budget.
Tyler is now in the full sales pitch mode. One can expect her to make appearances at every gathering of five or more citizens, whether welcomed or not.
For many reasons, these renewals could face voter displeasure.
The first being the word “tax” itself.
Touting that the ballot propositions are not for new taxes is technically incorrect. These taxes have expired. Thus Shreveport property taxes due in December of this year will go down if the renewals fail.
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. Thus the perception of a “crime problem” in Shreveport is, in fact, a reality.
Many citizens, especially those in the Broadmoor neighborhood, are unhappy with the street repairs made, and not made, from the 2011 Glover bond packages.
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 recent designation by Money Magazine of Bossier City as the best place in the state to live has rubbed salt into many citizen anxiety wounds.
Many voters are unhappy with special elections for tax renewals. Tyler could have placed the renewals on the November ballot.
Citizens that are still receiving excessive water bills from the City (actually DOWUS) may also voice their displeasure by voting against the renewals.
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 includes the mayor and the council elections.