Shreveport Leaders Might Have to Talk Higher Taxes Soon
Shreveport leaders might have to begin 2023 with some immediate belt tightening or finding a way to bring in more money.
The latest budget report to the Shreveport City Council shows the reserve fund will drop from 62 million at the end of this year to just 20 million by the end of next year.
What Is the Problem?
The big drain on the budget is the 13% pay raise given to all employees earlier this year. That pay increase costs at least 7 million dollars a year. But when you factor in benefits and the impact on the retirement system, the price tag is even more.
The administration presented the budget this week saying the top priority is to emphasize fiscal responsibility. But even the Chief Administrative Officer Henry Whitehorn is waving a caution flag. He says we started this year in great shape, but that has changed.
Whitehorn says leaders will need to look at a way to find new recurring revenue to maintain that 13% increase without continuing to dip into the reserve fund.
Whitehorn also says the solid waste fund is dwindling and it might be time to look at bringing in more revenue for that service. There has been some discussion about increasing the garbage fee to help pay for solid waste collection, but so far no one has proposed an increase.
What Do the Numbers Show?
$55 million fund balance starting 2022
$62 million dollar fund balance at end of 2022
$20 million dollar fund balance at end of 2023
The goal is to maintain operating reserves of 5-7% of expenditures. Shreveport's expenditures this year will be about $250 million.
How Much Will This Increase Cost Each Year?
The internal audit report shows this increase will cost at least $7 million a year in salaries and benefits (including retirement obligations) for non-public safety workers. It will cost $12 million a year for police and fire personnel.
Some leaders say a full compensation study should have been done to make sure these raises would be sustainable.
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