Following a presentation at the Shreveport city council infrastructure committee meeting by a vendor pitching for city work, there has been some chatter about Shreveport following Memphis in de-annexing several city areas.
The full story is that this effort, known as Memphis 3, was started after two affluent neighborhoods challenged being annexed into the city of Memphis. After much litigation, a compromise was reached to allow a study process known as Memphis 3.
After a two year study involving over 15,000 residents a plan was adopted to de-annex several areas of Memphis. The goal was to right-size the city for services that could be afforded. Basically , the plan for the city is to grow up—not out. To infill as many areas as possible and have a compact city , with less infrastructure to manage.
The Memphis study focused on 20 years of anticipated tax revenues and 20 years of projected costs for certain areas of the city. This included police and fire protection, streets and drainage, water and garbage and the like. The goal was to shed outlying area that cost the city more in tax dollars than they produced.
For Memphis, it is a good plan. And in theory it could be a great idea for Shreveport. But let’s look at reality.
Shreveport like Memphis has grown by expansion of land mass, with no correlating increase in population. More to the point, Shreveport has been losing population while it land mass remained constant.
To begin with, what area to de-annex? Southern Hills? MLK area with Southern University Shreveport? Allendale or Queensborough? How bout the Forbing area, say south of East Ridge Country Club?
De-annexing any area with a majority black population would likely be problem some under various federal civil rights laws. The MLK area, previously known as the Cooper Road area, was annexed into the city in 1978 after several attempts.
To de-annex in Louisiana, a city passes an ordinance that contracts it boundaries. But this must be preceded by a petition containing the written consent of a majority of registered voters , the written consent of majority in number of the residential property owners and the written consent of 25% in value of the property of the resident property owners within the area proposed to be de-annexed. These three required petitions must be certified by the parish assessor and the parish registrar of voters.
Assuming these requirements are satisfied, then the Shreveport city council can by a majority vote approve the de-annexation of area from the city limits.
De-annexation will shrink a city’s footprint, its population and its operating revenue. It will also decrease its operating costs. Such a vote can have a negative impact on a city’s bonding capacity due to the sudden financial change in the city’s financial status.
And speaking of bonding, Shreveport needs to issue at least another $500 million in revenue bonds (probably $600 million) to complete the required EPA consent decree. It is doubtful the EPA would allow de-annexing of any area that still had water and sewer line remediation work .
Bottom line, Shreveport has substantial differences from Memphis that lessen the likelihood of successful de-annexation. The Memphis 3 plan is worth a look, but it does not offer any easy or quick panacea for Shreveport.