Covering Louisiana

Oct 25, 2012 11:16 AM by AP

Tax decreases result in tight Shreveport budget

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Declining revenues are a major contributing factor to a decrease in Shreveport's projected $453.5 million budget for 2013 - down nearly 10 percent from 2012.

A drop in sales tax revenues because of a slowed natural gas industry, the rollback of the city's property tax millage and a reduction in debt services accounts for much of the almost $50 million difference from this year. Nearly $26 million comes from the payoff of a 2003 bond issue from the debt service reserve fund.

The Times reports no layoffs or furloughs are expected, and basic city services will not be affected.

"I'm pleased with what we've put forth," Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover said through a statement through communications director Rod Richardson. "I believe it reflects a practical, albeit conservative, approach to how we anticipate 2013 will ultimately unfold. We've made some cuts and deferred some things, but it is critical for us to operate within our current means."

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Brian Crawford told city council members this week that even though 2012 has been a "challenging year for us economically ... we've been able to put a budget together that is practical, conservative and will serve us well in 2013."

Larger city departments' budgets are projected to be relatively unchanged from 2012. Department heads are given a spending cap but can include unfunded needs in their requests.

Public works was able to purchase two knuckle boom trucks in 2012, but city officials held off on a vehicle package for several departments to wait for sales tax revenues to increase, leaving the department still in need.

"We were fortunate enough last year to get $2 million, and that went a long way for a lot of stuff," said Stan Harris, public works director. "This year, our biggest need is to replace trash trucks. We need about 32."

A series of budget review sessions begins on Monday. The city council is required to adopt the budget no later than Dec. 15.

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