Dear Members of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce,
At its March meeting, the Chamber Board of Directors hosted Mayor Tyler and her team to discuss the upcoming millage renewals that will be on the ballot later this month.
Subsequent to the meeting, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to support these essential millage renewals, and we believe it is our duty to present to you our rationale for doing so.
To begin, it is important to understand that this vote of support was not simply routine. The Chamber Board reviews each request for support carefully, regardless of the source. Especially where taxes are concerned, the Board takes its due diligence very seriously. In fact, over the past several months, the Board has been working with a local accounting firm and several university researchers to develop a deeper understanding of the composition of our local millages and their comparability to communities in our state and region.
The Board believes that these six propositions are renewals that provide critical services to our community such as street repair and support for law enforcement that must be funded. They also include investments in our municipal employees and in the parks and community centers that enhance the quality of life for our families. In this instance, we believe these renewals are not only essential to the health and welfare of our community, but they go to the very core of the kinds of services that we expect from our municipality.
We also recognize that these are in fact millage renewals, not new taxes. They have been in place for decades, and in 5 of the 6 cases the language of the proposition approved by the Louisiana Secretary of State clearly states that, “Shall the City of Shreveport continue to levy…” and “being a continuation of the tax approved by the voters on April 6, 2013”.
In the case of Proposition 6 which enables our 24-hour police coverage, this millage was enabled under the 1921 Louisiana State Constitution and has been paid in Shreveport since at least 1930. When the Constitution was updated in 1974, it was believed that this millage was grandfathered in, but a recent administrative decision called that grandfathering into question. Thus, although this millage has been paid for more than 80 years, this is its first time on the ballot. The language of the proposition specifically states that this millage is “providing funds for the City’s continuation and maintenance of the Three Platoon System originally authorized by….the Louisiana Constitution of 1921.”
These millages are being renewed at the same time and in the same manner as they have been for at least the past 15 years. The language of the propositions includes the date of April 6, 2013 as the date of the last renewal, demonstrating that these millages are traditionally renewed in the calendar year they are assessed, rather than in the prior year. There is no malfeasance, sleight of hand or change in practice regarding this year’s renewals.
It is also important to recognize that since 2013, the City has reduced its taxation by 6 mills and as more of the city’s debt is retired, it is expected that additional mills will be reduced. Even including these renewals, Shreveport City millages are at their lowest levels since 1982.
These millages are not monies allocated to the general fund, rather they are dedicated to the specific activities outlined in each proposition as noted below.
Proposition 1 provides funding specifically for “improving, repairing and maintaining the streets of the City of Shreveport.” Our local streets and roads are not just the critical arteries of business, they are the connections which link our community and must be maintained to be safe and improved to support commerce. We believe streets are an essential public good worthy of support through a vote of “yes” on Proposition 1.
Proposition 2 provides funding specifically for “operating and supplying recreational facilities…and maintaining same.” As we seek to attract new businesses and new families to our community, quality of life amenities such as parks and recreation centers are vital to maintaining and enhancing our community. Especially as younger families place a premium on outdoor amenities such as dog parks, bike paths and walking trails, we believe maintaining these outward examples of our community’s priorities are worthy of support through a vote of “yes” on Proposition 2.
Proposition 3 provides funding specifically for “continuing the salary and wage schedule of the City employees” and Proposition 5 provides specifically for “funds for the City’s portion of the pensions, employee life insurance and hospitalization plan for City employees.” In any industry, a living wage, and reasonable financial compensation are vital to attracting and retaining a quality workforce. This is also true of our civil servants, especially our fire and police forces. Unlike a private business however, our municipalities cannot simply increase production or expand a product line to generate additional funds for raises or to hire new staff. As such, they must come before the voters in five-year increments to request these funds. While we are always focused on ensuring good stewardship of our tax dollars, we also recognize that stability and predictability are important when retaining employees. In addition, the City has made strides to dedicate additional funds toward existing retirement obligations, reducing the budget burden of these expenses in future years. We recognize that these millages will maintain the recent pay increase for our police, firefighters and city employees, support the City’s portion of their medical and retirement programs and believe they are worthy of support through a vote of “yes” on Propositions 3 and 5.
Proposition 4 provides funding specifically for “police and fire personnel and allowance for uniforms and equipment.” Our first responders provide a critical bulwark between our citizenry and harm, and it is incumbent on the community to provide them with the tools they need to protect us. The recently implemented vehicle purchase program, for example, is the kind of ongoing investment, supported by these funds, that helps ensure our police are on the streets where we need them, rather than in the shop waiting for a vehicle. We believe that this millage supports the ongoing provisioning of our first responders that is critical to public safety and is worthy of support through a vote of “yes” on Proposition 4.
As mentioned above, Proposition 6 provides funding specifically for “the City’s continuation and maintenance of the Three Platoon System originally authorized by….the Louisiana Constitution of 1921.” In 2017 70 new police officers were added to the Police Department, and there are plans to hire an additional 80 in 2018. Since August of 2017, part 1 crimes have also steadily declined. This millage is specifically dedicated to supporting the three-platoons that make 24-hour police presence in our community possible. It goes without saying that an adequate police presence, across our community, is vital to both our personal safety and to our commercial success and so we believe that this millage is worthy of support through a vote of “yes” on Proposition 6.
In supporting these millages, the Board is demonstrating its recognition of the importance of these critical services. At the same time, the Board is committed to supporting the business climate expected of our members by reducing the millage burden where possible and by ensuring that our government bodies are run as efficiently and effectively as possible. We recognize that there is much work to be done with regard to the efficiency of our local governments, and through our recent efforts with regard to the MPC for example, the Chamber is increasing both its vigilance and its advocacy on behalf of our business community. This is an election year for our city, and the Chamber will be active in laying out the expectations we have for our city leaders going forward. We welcome your input and participation in that discussion.
We also recognize that funding critical services such as streets, parks, fire and police are truly the essential foundation of a functioning community and must be supported. For that reason, we encourage each of you to turn out and to vote “yes” on these important propositions, whether through early voting from April 14-21 or on election day April 28.
Your Board of Directors
Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce
Chamber takes the next step to gain information, compile recommendations for MPC/UDC improvements
In response to requests from builders, designers and commercial developers, the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce has scheduled the first in a series of public town hall meetings to provide input and offer feedback about the site plan approval process and the Unified Development Code (UDC) to the Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).
In March, Chamber president Dr. Timothy J. Magner held a private, roundtable discussion with members of the local building community to hear concerns on working with the MPC and the UDC. Dr. Magner also met with members, representatives and staff of the MPC.
“It’s clear that there are several areas where we feel more input, direct feedback and better dialog can help improve the situation,” stated Magner. “Traditionally, the role of the Chamber has been to organize the business community and to bridge the gap between business and government. It’s my sincere hope that we will be able to do that again in this instance to help resolve these challenges, and improve Shreveport’s economic development outlook.”
To accommodate as many participants as possible, LSU Shreveport has graciously agreed to hold this first Town Hall at University Theater on the LSUS campus. The Town Hall will be held at 1:00 on Wednesday, April 11th. University Theater is located inside the University Center, on the East side of the campus.
The first Town Hall will focus on the Unified Development Code itself. To streamline the meeting and to focus on the specific articles and sections of the UDC that receive the most comments, the Chamber has created an online survey to collect specific recommendations about the UDC.
Interested participants are asked to fill out the survey prior to attending - https://goo.gl/forms/13H597UC6QL9z6r43.
For questions or to register via phone, please call 318-677-2500 to speak with Carole Bennett. Media inquiries should be directed to Erin Smith, director of marketing, communications and public relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ribbon Cuttings with the Chamber can now provide you with even more exposure!
If you have a ribbon cutting with the Chamber, a photo and your business name will now appear the same day on a digital billboard around town! Big thanks to Lamar Billboards for their help in making this possible! Also Congrats and Thank You to Southern Roots Dentistry on their grand opening and for being our first billboard up!
So have you noticed anything new at the Chamber recently? If you called the Chamber last week, you may have been greeted by a new voice, and one without an English accent!
Please allow us to introduce you to Dexter Jackson, who has joined us on an internship program from Job Corps. Dexter has just graduated from the Office Administration certification program and is getting some real-world, hands-on business experience with us at the Chamber. Over the next few weeks, Dexter will be learning the front desk operation, honing his customer service skills, developing business etiquette knowledge and diving into the Chamber world! We hope you take a moment to call or stop by and give him a warm welcome.
Did you know Job Corps offers training in Advanced Fabrication (Welding), Construction (Facility Maintenance, Carpentry, and Painting), Finance and Business (Office Administration), Healthcare (Certified Nursing Assistant) and Hospitality (Culinary Arts)? Students in these programs who are nearing graduation are looking for opportunities to gain valuable experience at companies and business in our local area.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Work Based Learning program from Job Corps and how it could be a fit with your company, please contact Karryl Durr-Stewart, Director of Programs, at email@example.com or 318-629-7541.
BATON ROUGE – Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, along with the Louisiana Office of Tourism, are proud to announce that eight communities from across Louisiana are officially Louisiana Retirement Certified Areas. The Encore Louisiana Commission worked for over three months on naming these specific locations across the state that are now certified and focused on bringing retirees to enjoy their “encore” at life.
Shreveport-Bossier event announcement from local community officials and other special guests.
Hirsch Memorial Coliseum Gate 1 Lobby
3207 Pershing Blvd., Shreveport
2 p.m., Monday, March 19
Please join the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, mayors, parish officials, sponsors, and very special guests for a special announcement about an upcoming national event at 2 p.m., Monday, March 19 at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum.
Each year, the Business Development Connection of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce recognizes outstanding minority owned-businesses and minority professionals who are making a difference in our community.
Nominations for the annual Minority Business Opportunity Awards are now being accepted. As defined by BDC, a minority for the purposes of these categories includes not only racial minorities, but also includes gender and ethnicity i.e. women, Hispanic, Asian American, African American, Native American, etc.
Categories for nominations include
For more information, category descriptions, and to nominate someone, visit shreveportchamber.org/mboanominations
Nominations close April 7th, 2018.
At the Chamber, we're always looking for ways to help our small business members grow and succeed.
HubSpot CRM is a free sales tool to help you business get organized and streamline your sales funnel.
After using HubSpot CRM's free version, if you decide to upgrade to the paid version, the Chamber will receive a commission, helping us further our mission of unifying business and industry in Shreveport!
Click here for more information.
NR: GREATER SHREVEPORT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HEARS FROM LOCAL BUILDERS AND DESIGNERS ON ISSUES WITH COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Developers, Engineers, Architects, voice concerns, discuss solutions
Dr. Timothy J. Magner, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber, met with more than 30 local architects, engineers and real estate developers today to hear their challenges working with local municipalities.
“There is a general feeling that concerns and suggestions are not being addressed. As a convener and advocate for local business, it is the Chamber’s job to listen and help develop solutions to these issues,” said Dr. Magner. “Today’ meeting highlighted that there are some consistent challenges with the codes, regulations and processes utilized by the city and the MPC. These impediments are delaying and even halting construction, having a significant impact on our economic development. I want to work with city and the MPC to see if we can address them as soon as possible.”
After today’s meeting, Dr. Magner plans to work with those who attended to develop a series of recommended solutions to the problems and present them to the MPC and local city officials. “I’m hopeful that we can all work together for the betterment of Shreveport,” stated Dr. Magner.