Shreveport has struggled to recruit police officers over the past two years and the city is looking at ways to bring in more officers. The Mayor is proposing a 13% pay increase for Shreveport police and firefighters.

This would bring the pay for police officers closer to the average in the region. But there is one big problem with this. The city has the money now, but the council will have to find a way to fund this pay raise in the future. State law requires this pay to be locked in for future years, so this does create a bit of a budget issue. Council members will have to look at a possible fee, a millage increase, or some sort of tax increase to provide recurring monies to pay for this raise.

Chief Administrative Officer Henry Whitehorn says he challenged the police and fire chiefs to bring him a budget that increased pay by at least 10%. But he also has a goal of getting the minimum pay of officers to $40,000 a year. To get to that number, the pay raise would have to be a 13% increase.

The pay raise for police officers will cost about $3.7 million while the fire department pay raises will cost $3.6 million.

Whitehorn says:

We do have to find recurring dollars. The operating reserves and the vacancies will allow us to fund this now, but we do not have the money to sustain it. It is going to be critical that this council find a recurring revenue source to continue to fund this pay raise.

Councilman Grayson Boucher asked how long we could sustain this increase and Whitehorn told the council that answer is one year.

If the city goes beyond one year with no funding source, this would significantly impact the reserve fund. The administration is working to keep between 5 and 7% in the reserve.

Right now, the city's financial condition is in decent shape, but that is a direct result of federal dollars the city received from the American Rescue Plan. That money will not be a permanent fixture in the budget.

The city's fund balance at the end of 2020 was $34 million. In 2021 Shreveport city government had $282 million available and budgeted $219 million. These leaves a fund balance of $63 million at the end of 2021.

Shreveport will have $271 million available for spending in 2022 and the city is budgeted to spend $206 million. This will leave a fund balance of $40 million at the end of 2022.

But if you do the math, this shows a cut in spending of $13 million or about 6% of the budget during 2022. Where will those cuts be? Will it be belt tightening? Will it be fewer workers in other departments?

The city is also proposing a 2.75%  across the board pay raise for all classified employees.

You can have input on the budget for 2022 during a public hearing on Friday November 19. The council is expected to vote on this budget on December 14.

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