QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED FOR VOTERS BEFORE PORT TAX RENEWAL VOTE ON 9 APRIL

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015Here is a list of questions that the officials of the Port of Caddo Bossier should answer for voters before the upcoming tax renewals. The Port spends big bucks with a local ad agency for public relations, but Executive Director Eric England is tightlipped when asked “hard questions” about the internal operations of the Port, much less the upcoming tax renewal. This list was sent to England with a request that he answer the same; he has failed to respond to this email.

Executive Director Eric England
Director Eric England
  1. The 2.5 mil tax has generated over $80 million dollars in 21 years. How has this money been spent and why does the tax need to be renewed?
  2. The initial tax was approved in 1993 to 25 years—it expires in 2018. Why are you seeking a renewal now?
  3. There was a presidential primary on Saturday—March 5—for Caddo and Bossier. Why is the renewal the only issue on the 9 April ballot? Why did you not utilize March 5 or on Nov 8?
  4. What will be the costs to the Port from both parishes for this referendum? Would these costs be less if this was on a ballot with other elections—if so, how much less?
  5. Is it true that all of the 2300 plus acres owned by the Port is exempt from ad valorem taxes to Bossier and Caddo Parish? If so, what is the amount of taxes that have been lost to the respective Parishes by the Port property since the acquisition of the various tracts owned by the Port?Squeezed-Tax-Code
  6. What is total rent revenue from the Port’s 17 tenants? Please list per year all rents received by Port since opened.
  7. The Port has 20 employees drawing almost $2 million per year; the highest is Executive Director Eric England with $275,000 per year and the lowest is an operator at $42,000 per year. Are these salaries inflated?
  8. The Port headquarters cost in excess of $14 million and it houses less than 15 employees—the others work in other Port facilities. What was the source of these funds? Was this large expenditure necessary to house Port staff? The furnishing for this facility cost in excess of $670,000; was this large expenditure necessary for furnishing for 15 (or less) employees?
  9. The Couples tract was purchased from a prior Port Commissioner for $2.64 million. Were any state ethics problems from this purchase? This tract is zoned residential/agriculture—can this be used for Port development with this zoning? If not, why was it purchased?Someone has to pay the tax
  10. There are 6 homeowners on Harts Island –between Hwy 1 and Robson Road. What plans does the Port have to insulate these property owners from diminution of their property values due to Port development? The couples tract is directly behind these homes.

The Port Director, Eric England, was formally sent all these questions and NO ANSWERS HAVE BEEN SUPPLIED. The public needs to ask why England has refused to supply answers.

Once again voters of Caddo, and this time Bossier, are being asked to renewal a tax millage several years before the expiration—and at a special elections when voter turnout is expected to be minimal. Additionally public tax dollars will be

Our Red River
Our port!

expended to “sell” this proposal as well as pay the costs of the special vote. Caddo property owners pay the highest taxes of anyone in the state of Louisiana, and this tax is just one of the reasons the Caddo ad valorem rate is so high. Voters should be fully informed on how their tax dollars are spent; hopefully Mr. England (who is paid with tax dollars) will provide this needed information for the electorate.

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