It’s a poorly kept secret, which Mayor Tyler refuses to acknowledge, that Shreveport’s police are lowly paid in comparison to comparable cities. The continual shortage of police officers below the authorized number is due , no doubt, in part to the pay disparity. And its not rocket science to connect the dots between Shreveport’s increasing crime rate and the lack of officers on the street.
Councilman James Flurry will soon introduce an ordinance to internalize the functions of the Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) as a city department. There are many good reasons for his proposal and costs savings is one of them. The City funded the MPC office with 1.2 million dollars this year. The Parish contributed $240 thousand dollars to the MPC budget; the Parish is repaid these sums through fees charged by the MPC to developers, etc.
The MPC also receives funds from private citizens and businesses for sign permits, certificates of occupancy, and subdivision filing fees. These revenues were $295 thousand dollars in 2016; the 2017 budget has estimates from these sources exceed $297 thousand dollars.
If the City takes over planning, then a new contract can be negotiated with the Parish to fund the City $240 thousand dollars with NO reimbursement to the Parish. The MPC staff payroll of $1.3 million dollars (and that is with one staff vacancy) seemingly is excessive. The Executive Director’s total package is in excess of $165 thousand per year, and the Deputy Director’s total salary package is over $124 thousand dollars a year. Additionally the MPC 2017 budget includes legal fees of $24 thousand dollars. If the MPC was department of the City it is doubtful any legal services would be needed, and if so the City Attorney’s office could handle the same.
With an internal Planning office the City’s 2018 budget could easily see a total cost savings in excess of $400 thousand dollars. These sums would fund a very modest, but much needed raise for Shreveport police officers; it would also make the SPD’s pay a little more competitive. Additionally, the planning office would then be accountable to the Mayor and the Council; currently the MPC Executive Director runs his shop as he sees fit. For example, the MPC is the only government office in Caddo Parish that completely shuts down from noon to 1:00 p.m. daily.
An internal planning office for the City of Shreveport is a win win for Shreveport taxpayers. Hopefully the City Council will quickly approve Flurry’s resolution and a transition process can begin for a January 1, 2018 city planning office.