A long standing bone of contention between the Shreveport City Council and the Caddo Commission has been the appropriate funding of the Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).
For the last three calendar years, the City has funded a little over $1 million dollars to the MPC.
The city also provided free office space for the MPC , free accounting services, and other administrative support valued at over $200 grand a year.
The Parish funded $189 thousand (and change) for 2015 and 2016. In 2017 the Parish funded $217,500.
This fall the MPC funded a financial sustainability study to determine the appropriate funding levels for the city and the parish. Two approaches were used to determine appropriate funding levels.
The first was a direct cost approach. This analyzed the direct costs and revenues of the MPC from both government bodies. This analysis indicated that the total city funding was 86.8% and the parish funding was 13.2%.
The direct cost approach indicated that the city funding should be 77% and the parish should be 23%. Based on this analysis, the parish funding of the MPC should be $378 grand.
The second approach was a budget analysis of Caddo Parish. Since the City of Shreveport is in Caddo Parish, a portion of the parish’s budget is for services for those that live outside the City limits and for those within the city limits.
The budget analysis approach indicated that the City should fund 74.3% of the MPC and the Parish should provide 25.7% of the funding. Based on this analysis the Parish should be funding the MPC the sum of $422 thousand.
The financial sustainability study findings were discussed at a Council meeting. The consensus of the Council members was that $400 grand should be funded by the Parish for the 2018 MPC budget.
The proposed Parish 2018 budget had a line item of $230 thousand dollars for the MPC operations. At its special budget meeting on December 5, the MPC funding was amended to $200,000.
And unlike the City, all MPC fees charged for Parish cases flow through to the Parish. This practice is also problematic to the Council.
The Council has been less than happy with the MPC Executive Director Mark Sweeney. Additionally, the much heralded Unified Development Code has failed to live up to the high expectations that it would suddenly be the cure-all to increase development in Caddo Parish.
Against this background of discontent is the study prepared by Shreveport City Attorney William Bradford on the feasibility of the city setting up an internal planning office versus continued funding of the MPC. Bradford’s report indicated that such an office would be valid under the city charter and it set forth the various legislative steps needed to accomplish the same.
What the Council will do on funding is, for now, an open question.
One option is to fund the MPC the same amount for 2018 as it did in 2017. Thus the total government funding of the MPC would be $17,000 less in 2018.
A second option is to reduce 2018 funding to a lower percentage in line with the feasibility study. Since the Parish funding is $200,000 then the City’s funding of 75% would be $600 thousand. In this event, total government funding of the MPC would be only $800 thousand versus 2017 government funding of $1.3 million.
A third option is to fund the MPC for the first quarter only of 2018 to allow additional consideration of setting up an internal planning office.
The Council must adopt its 2018 budget by December 15. It is expected that the Council will have substantial discussion at its Monday work session on the MPC funding. The Council is expected to adopt its budget on Tuesday, December 12.
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