SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins is hoping voters will approve a set of bond proposals totaling $236 million in the upcoming December 11 election to pay for desperately needed improvements to the city’s public safety and infrastructure.
“The overall importance is that it’s a reinvestment into our city. So our city can grow and prosper,” Perkins said.
Voters rejected a similar set of bond propositions pushed by Perkins totaling $186 million in November 2019. A new $207 million bond proposal was put off in January over concerns there was not enough time for the public to provide input. A month later, a pair of winter storms hit the region with an arctic blast that hit the city’s water infrastructure hard, leaving thousands of residents without running water for days.
This time around, five new, separate propositions totaling $236,726,690 will be on the ballot:
- Proposition 1 for public safety improvements totals $69 million. In addition to the $27.5 million for a new police headquarters, it include $24.2 million for fire vehicles and equipment, station maintenance and renovations, and the relocation of three fire stations.
- Proposition 2 provides for $22 million for technology improvements for the city, including broadband and a fiber-optic communications system for the city.
- Proposition 3 totals $63.2 million for improvements to the city’s water, sewerage and drainage systems.
- Proposition 4 totals just under $62 million for improvements to streets, bridges, and sidewalks citywide.
- Proposition 5 asks voters for $20.5 million for parks and recreation improvements.
While Perkins says he is hoping voters approve all five this time around, the city’s police and fire departments and the water, sewerage, and drainage systems top the list of priorities.
“We don’t need to be drinking out of this,” Perkins said pointing to a degraded pipe during a tour of the Amiss Water Treatment Plant Tuesday. “This is very susceptible to breaking whenever we experience cold weather.”
The mayor wants voters to remember this when they head to the polls and consider approving these propositions as an investment in the city’s infrastructure and public safety.
“Remember last February whenever you’re out there. Remember how much pain the city went through because of our antiquated water and sewer system. This gives us an opportunity to invest in it. Remember the roads that you drive down every day that has messed up cars. That’s messing up city equipment every day. Remember what’s going on right now when it comes to violent crime. We’re seeing a historic rate of violent crimes. We have to make investments if we want to change,” Perkins said.
The current police headquarters at the corner of Texas Avenue and Murphy Street was built in 1956. City and police department leaders say it is in need of major renovations and repairs.
“Outdated technology. The infrastructure is crumbling unbelievably. Every time I go through the building I see more and more damage. I feel so bad for my officers,” Substitute Police Chief Wayne Smith said Tuesday during a tour of the aging building.
“Just imagine if a 100 or a 200-pound piece of granite falls off the building if someone is walking underneath it,” Smith said, pointing to a column that is breaking apart while holding up the building’s second story. Smith says water damage has forced them to board up and abandon some areas of the building, and toilets in both public and staff restrooms are out of commission.
“Parts of the commode are laying are on the floor, so that means that commode doesn’t work.”
Over in the city’s fire department, Substitute Fire Chief John Lane describes the state of the facilities and equipment as being at risk of “catastrophic major failures,” and how decades-old fire trucks either don’t start or sometimes break down before they get to someone’s house fire.
“As the fire chief, my greatest concern is, am I going to be able to meet the mission? Am I going to be able to serve the citizens?”
Lane says some of the fire stations are in need of major overhauls, as well.
“It was not built with female firefighters in mind. There were none at the time.”
For all of those reasons and more, Perkins is urging voters to support these proposals, noting that the need is even greater than it was when they rejected the first round in 2019.
“We’ve experienced a winter storm where a majority of our citizens went without water for eleven days. We’ve experienced an uptick in crime and we know we need to invest in our water and sewer system, and we know we need to invest in public safety heavily.”