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Shreveport Should Work To Fix Poorer Neighborhoods, Not Just Patch [Op-Ed]

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Photo by Amanda Currier

Poorer parts of Shreveport have poor quality roads, occasional power outages from “wear and tear” and this leads to further issues for the entire city.  Why not try to make these areas more appealing for investors, residents, and businesses?

“You don’t maintain them [infrastructure] properly,” political consultant Elliott Stonecipher told 710 KEEL.  ”Guess why?  Because there aren’t enough people there complaining. And if they are there, they are not of the socio-economic status that their complaints are responded to.”

This isn’t just affecting the poorer sections of Shreveport.  When a power outage affects Stoner Hill, it affects the traffic lights on Youree Drive.

The city did work to try to fix some of these problems with the 2011 bond issue.

“Was the money needed to make the repairs?” Stonecipher asked rhetorically.  ”Yes. Could we afford it?  No. right now, the City of Shreveport is knocking on the door of the lowest ever in its history, by percentage, reserve.  We’ve never gone this low.  The people who live here don’t even know it’s happening.”

Repairs like the water and sewer system, roads, utilities and general infrastructure have to be made and have been made in several parts of the city.  However, the costs of such repairs may hurt the city in the long-haul.

“Shreveport’s debt per capita, over $4000, on top of the state, on top of the federal,” explained Stonecipher.  ”Shreveport does not have the economic wherewithal to justify the kind of debt for those services, for the maintenance that we have.”

As Shreveport has expanded terrestrially, the parts of the city that have been left behind in favor of these new locations have not been maintained, causing a ripple effect through other elements of life here in Shreveport.  Rather than just patching up these lower-income areas, why aren’t we as a city doing more to improve these impoverished  or abandoned sections of town to bring outside interest in these “new-to-you” communities?

By not working to improve these sections of town, we are only making living in Shreveport more and more expensive as middle and upper income residents have to pay for the services of the increasingly impoverished parts of the city.

By improving the value of properties here in Shreveport, the city would benefit from the additional property tax income as more properties rise above the homestead exemption threshold of $75,000.  Plus, if we can provide the tools to these communities, whether it is community events or resources and infrastructure improvements to attract small businesses to these areas, we can bring in additional outside investment into Shreveport meaning new, fresh money in our communities.

New, fresh money means more money to pay into city services for fewer people who remain dependent on using city and state services, should these poorer residents improve their lives with these opportunities.

More revenue + fewer costs = lower tax burden.

Right now, the way Shreveport is developing is leaving behind wastelands of despair, poverty, and crime in favor of the greener grass in the woods of Caddo Parish.  If Shreveport can take these brownfields, give these areas the tools and promotion to allow for successful small businesses to develop, the city’s tax and revenue situation would be better.

But, for the city, why improve rundown parts of Shreveport when you can just add more land?

And more importantly, for current and potential residents (the tax revenue), why move to Shreveport when you can live in Bossier City, DeSoto Parish, or East Texas?

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