It was a theme in every council campaign last year.
And a constant mantra at the council meetings, especially by the 3 newbies.
Levette Fuller, John Nickelson, and Grayson Boucher all want to cut the “fat” in the city budget.
That’s what they promised on the campaign trail. Not to bring home the “bacon”.
The 2019 Shreveport budget was adopted in December of last year. Of the current council members, only Jerry Bowman Jr, James Flurry and Willie Bradford voted on the budget.
The budget has appropriations for many NGOS (non government entities.) These are direct dollar transfer of funds.
Here is the 2019 list:
Caddo Council on Aging $10,000
CoHabitat Foundation $25,000
Compassion for Lives $7500
Fit for Life $15,000
Independence Bowl Foundation $140,000
Inner City Entrepreneur Institute $10,000
McNeil Street Pumping Station $25,000
MLK Health Center & Pharmacy $15,000
MLK Community Development Center $10,000
Shreveport Green $37,500
Step Forward $25,000
THIS TOTALS $320,000
Funding of NGOs is always a very political decision. And unfortunately, the council does not have clear guidelines on funding.
Some non profit organizations have a highly paid staff. This should be a factor in any funding by the city council.
Like-wise the council does not have criteria for the SPAR cooperative endeavor agreements. Many, many, many times each year that SPAR provides at no charge services for events that have an in-kind dollar value. Think crowd barriers, tables and chairs, stages, and park cleanups.
Which organizations should qualify for in-kind support with city staff and city resources is a murky area. Recently the council approved SPAR assistance for a Bossier Parish triathlon and a Shreveport church.
Another money issue that has been flying under the radar in the past is fees paid to bond council.
Bond council fees exceeded $1.34 million in the last 5 years (2014-2018).
These are the payments:
Adams and Reese $351 thousand plus
Boles Law Firm $408 thousand plus
Jacqueline Scott $117 thousand pls
Washington & Wells $460 thousand plus
The city will be issuing $100 million in bonds for the next 6 years to comply with the EPA consent decree for required water and sewer upgrades.
Councilman John Nickelson wants the city to utilize a competitive bid process for selection of bond counsel starting in 2020. This matter has been debated by the council although no votes have been taken.
Like it or not, the city is in a new era when it comes to how to spend public dollars. Basically the well is dry, and the standard m.o. is not practical.
How this council deals with NGO funding, bond council fees and attorney fees for outside attorneys is a story yet to be told. Other areas of the city’s budget should also not be sacred.