SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The coronavirus pandemic made 2020 a challenging year that required difficult decisions to be made, but Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins says the city is “stronger” financially now than before.
Deep budget cuts, around ten-percent in some departments, had to be made in order to prevent layoffs of city employees. Perkins credits his team along with money from the CARES Act that kept Shreveport on track for a strong start to 2021. He said expenses paid out in 2020 that were COVID-related were recouped through CARES Act reimbursements.
“When we came into office we had a negative $1.2 million deficit. We can boast a $24 million operational surplus at this time,” said Perkins, who has confirmed he intends to run for re-election in 2022 after a failed bid to unseat Louisiana Sen. Sen Bill Cassidy in November.
He said his administration will spend conservatively over this next year because “you cannot anticipate the pandemic.” With the city’s finances in line and “a city council with an appetite to go out and get things done,” Perkins said it’s time to invest in areas that can help Shreveport prosper.
He’s introduced a new bond proposal that has all the similar workings of the previous bond proposal from 2019 that did not gain enough votes to pass. The 2019 bond proposal was set for $186 million, while this new one is for $207 million.
The proposal covers four main areas voters can potentially fund. This includes $88 million for streets and drainage, $77 million for the police and fire departments, $22 million for parks and recreation, $19.5 million for economic development, land, and buildings.
“The last bond proposal failed by razor-thin margins. We did a deep dive into the reasons why. We talked to citizens and organizations that had some reservations about it. So what you’re looking at in this bond proposal is about 90-percent of what it was before because we had a citizens committee come together and propose those things. But that 10-percent accounts for what we heard in feedback to make it stronger,” Perkins said.
He credits first-responders who’ve worked throughout the pandemic and even lost their life to COVID-19. He’s hoping to promote the bond proposal to the public over the coming months, but the rollout will look different this time because of pandemic precautions. He said there’s funding for fiber optic internet capabilities that the public should have a greater desire for now than in 2019.
Included in the bond proposal is the building of three substations for Shreveport police to be inside of neighborhoods. Besides adding a police presence, Perkins said this would help achieve the goal of more community policing by allowing officers and the community to build better relationships. He believes the bond proposal will be a step toward lowering the crime rate.
“We’re hoping this is what the citizens want and we’re hoping to be successful to make this city much safer,” Perkins said.
“I don’t think anybody would argue that 2020 put us in a hole. With the economic fallout, with public safety in our community. With the number of homicides that we had this year. In order for us to get out of that hole, we have to make an investment. We have to make an investment in public safety, in economic development, in technology. Not only for us to survive this pandemic but also come out stronger. So this is an opportunity for people in Shreveport to vote. To make sure our community is stronger for future generations to come.”