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Shreveport Sprawl, Lack of Density Don’t Help Property Taxes

Jimmy Davis Bridge
Amanda Currier

This week, we have looked into the reasons why Shreveport residents pay the most property taxes in Louisiana.  So far, we’ve discussed the residents who approve the tax increases, the Caddo Parish School Board, and now, we look at the bones of the city.

“Shreveport has an unusually low population density,” shared political consultant Elliott Stonecipher.

While this may be nice for those who like space and city services, this kills city government expenses.  The long distances for piping for public utilities, road maintenance, and other city services costs lots of money.  But because of the city is fairly low density compared to most cities in America, not as much tax revenue is generated to pay for these services.

“Through the years, going back to the 1960s, Shreveport government annexed huge portions of Caddo Parish so they could create the appearance of a growing population.”

Most of the annexed tracts were and still continue to be low density.  Typically, when a municipality annexes land, the goal is to grow the population, or take advantage of that growing population.

Many times, tracts of land are annexed because a large group of people move in to these formerly sparsely populated areas or are likely to move to an area and city services and resources are desired.  Often, they get hooked up to the city services, become annexed and provide additional tax revenue to the city.

But when Shreveport annexed these tracts of Caddo Parish, it didn’t do much to add to the city’s population and spread the city’s resources farther out.

“From the 1980 census to the most recent July 1, 2012 census data, Shreveport is about 4,000 people fewer than it was in 1980,” Stonecipher explained.  “Very, very few cities this size in America haven’t grown and in fact lost population since 1980.”

When services aren’t concentrated into consolidated hubs, costs rise.  When there isn’t enough people paying for those costs, property taxes rise.

Tomorrow, we play the comparison game.  How does Shreveport truly stack up against the East Texas cities?  Or even Bossier City?

Next: Shreveport vs. Bossier vs. East Texas

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