SANTA CLAUS WASN’T AT THE SHREVEPORT CITY COUNCIL MEETING YESTERDAY

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by Elliott Stonecipher
Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover

To hear Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover tell it, it was Christmas in August for abused taxpayers at yesterday’s City Council meeting.  Contrary to his hyper-spin – strong enough to zip earth right out of its orbit – he is certainly no rotund gift-giver to Shreveport’s long-hammered taxpayers.

The subject was and is that which dogs us from every known gathering of Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Washington, DC politicians:  taxes.  Specifically, Glover has decided, in what sounded like some kind of royal dispensation, that he and his city council brethren will not raises our taxes even higher than they already are.

The base on which our property tax is calculated – the assessed value of our home, as the main example – has gone way up (13% on my home), but Glover has decided to “give us” a roll-back rather than a roll-forward of the city’s 44.54-mill property tax.  That means he is now willing – but only until he’s not willing – to keep city government’s property tax haul where it is.  Put the other way, he won’t take a penny less than the relative load he’s already taking from us.

Here’s a bit of Glover’s I-can-spin-this-stuff-better-than-Bobby-Jindal horse-hockey (full Shreveport Times report here):

“This is precisely what my administration promised during our town hall meetings leading up to the April 2011 bond election. … Despite organized opposition to our message, the voters placed their trust in us and overwhelmingly approved the largest bond issue in Shreveport history. So this tax relief is just a small way of acknowledging the faith they’ve shown in us.’’

For openers, lets put a big ol’ asterisk on this junk about “… the voters placed their trust in us …”  What does His Honor think the outcome of that election would have been if only those who actually PAY the taxes had voted?  Heck, the next thing we’ll hear from our tax-’em-when-they-twitch mayor is something like …

“If you own property, you didn’t buy that property!!  Government gave you that property!  Government gave you life, brought you up, sustains you daily, gives you children and money to feed them!!!  GOVERNMENT owns that property!!”

Let us remember a couple of troublesome facts as we consider anything and everything our mayor and council say about Shreveport’s tax burden.

—  Shreveporters pay the highest property tax in Louisiana.  On my home in Twelve Oaks, I pay property tax to and for a total of eighteen – 18! – different taxing entities and categories, including a 5.65-mill tax to retire bonded debt for Fire District No. 5 … even though I pay for my fire protection from the Shreveport fire department.  When it’s all said and done, I pay just over 184 mills in property taxes, and 1-of-4 of those many, many dollars goes to Glover’s tax soiree.  (Caddo Tax Assessor data here.)

—  In addition to those property taxes, some of us also pay income taxes, both state and federal.  Then comes sales tax, and that’s certainly no bargain since our combined state and local sales taxes (8.6% in Shreveport) are now the 4th-highest in America.

Let’s Spin this Yarn…

So, rather than the Christmas-in-August idea, let’s ponder what really motivated yesterday’s “gift” of taxes “only” as high as always.  Since Glover whacked us with his $175,000,000 bond issue, a lot has happened to him, and to us:

(1)  At the end of the same April in which his gargantuan bond issue was added to our debt bomb, we learned of his Highway Robbery … the literal kind.  Earlier that month, Glover and his most-favored contributor and political friend, Bossier City Councilman Tim Larkin, infamously took from Shreveporters our Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port.

(2)  He and the City Council came back in August 2011 to raise our electricity franchise tax from 2% to 5%.  To put a somewhat more expressive number on that, they raised it 150%, without a vote of the taxed, of course.

(3)  Glover immediately came back to demand another $94,000,000 in bonded debt, for “streets,” as if there wasn’t a tens-of-millions for “streets” in the $175,000,000 bond issue just passed.  Citywide opposition stopped him.

(4)  In last fall’s election, Glover’s nemesis in Shreveport’s black community, Greg Tarver, won back his previously held state senate seat, defeating incumbent Lydia Jackson who paid the price for being Glover’s closest political ally.

(5)  Glover’s “financial advisor” became the target of a City Council investigation, though the public is not being given reports along the way to confirm that the investigation is still underway.  (Mushrooms are a cash crop in Shreveport’s city hall owing to its virtually complete absence of sunlight and it gross abundance of political manure.)

(6)  Glover’s pronounced lameduckness is thus far offering no recognizable post-mayoral gig.  His one-time plans to run for either 4th District Congress against John Fleming or the senate seat Tarver now holds have disappeared.

As I read the Times article this morning, touting the mayor and council’s intention to “provide some tax relief for property owners,” I remembered the intention Councilman Oliver Jenkins shared with me shortly after his election to come up with a “tax swap” of some kind to lower the tax burden on Shreveport property owners.  Such never happened, of course.  The reason?  “The City of Shreveport needs the money.”

Ponder that one for a moment.  Those who pay taxes don’t “need the money,” but those who soak us with taxes do.

It seems I went to sleep not too long ago in a very promising, medium-sized American city with incredible potential for growth and a high quality of life, only to wake up in just another big-government playground with fewer people, and even fewer taxpayers.  ‘Hell of it is, those we elect and otherwise pay to “lead” can’t see the obvious causes, much less the equally obvious opening solution.

HINT:  A dwindling population, particularly of taxpayers, is not – ever, never … anywhere – remedied by notably high taxes on the relatively few who pay the bills.

Elliott Stonecipher
FINISH 3132 COALITION

Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest.  No compensation of any kind has been solicited or accepted for this work.  This work is protected, and no other use of it is permitted without the written consent of Mr. Stonecipher.

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