by Elliott Stonecipher
Ten parish area data

Latest U. S. Census Bureau annual population estimates show more of the same for Northwest Louisiana parishes:  Bossier Parish with largest population gains, DeSoto and Webster Parishes growing very little, and Caddo not much better.

Between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011, Census Bureau data show Bossier’s population grew by 2,189, +1.9%, and Caddo Parish added 1,438 people, +0.6%.  Population growth in Webster Parish was 45 new residents, a +0.1% gain, and DeSoto Parish added 80 people, +0.3%.

“Official population estimates” from the Census Bureau are derived from a mix of data sources, key among which are actual birth and death data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and for the population migration component of the Estimates, from the Bureau’s American Community Survey data.

For those who care to know more about the methodology of Census Estimates, here is detail from the Bureau.

The Picture Back to 1980

In my work on this and related subjects, I stress that any such data is best viewed over much longer periods of time.  For us, the meaningful expanded view is back to the 1980 Census, the last Census before our state and local economies were severely damaged by the so-called “drying up of the oil patch.” a hit from which many Louisiana parishes have yet to recover.

Between the 1980 Census and these latest, July 1, 2011 official Estimates:

Bossier Parish population grew from 80,721 to 119,732 residents, +48.3%, an average annual increase of +1.53%.

Caddo Parish grew from 252,358 to 257,051, +1.9%, an average annual increase of +0.06%.

DeSoto Parish grew from 25,727 to 26,812, +4.2%, an average annual increase of +0.13%.

Webster Parish lost from 43,631 to 41,298, a loss of -5.3%, an average annual loss of -0.17%.

Louisiana’s population grew from 4,205,900 to 4,574,836, +8.8%, an average annual gain of +0.28%.

U. S. population grew during the period from 226,545,805 to 311,591,917, +37.5%, an average annual gain of +1.19%.

Differences and Comparisons in More Descriptive Terms

Bossier Parish’s population gain in the most recent reporting year is 3.1-times the population gain of Caddo Parish.  That is not, however, nearly as dramatic as the view back to 1980:  over the past 31.5 years, the Bossier Parish population grew 25.4-times as much, or as fast, as Caddo Parish.  In fact, Bossier is one of only 8 parishes of Louisiana’s 64 with total population growth stronger than the nation as a whole.

Louisiana’s population change over the most recent reporting year – +0.6% – is slightly below the nation’s population growth of +0.7%.  Going back to 1980, however, the national population growth rate has been 4.3-times that of our state’s population growth.

Is the Bossier Parish Population Growth Advantage Over Caddo Parish About to End?

Louisiana’s population growth rate has been shown in various studies to be far less than states without a state income tax, especially given that two of those states are very near, Texas and Florida.  It is my analysis and belief that the same general point can be made about Bossier Parish’s benefit over the years from notably lower property tax rates than those in across-the-Red neighbor Caddo Parish.

Later this month, however, Bossier may join Caddo and many, many other places in jumping aboard the Tax-and-Spending Express, which can speedily head into population stagnation.

With total public school property taxes in Bossier at just over 52-mills, Caddo’s highest-in-the state millage of over 78-mills is 50% higher.  Even for Shreveport and Caddo’s many high-tax apologists, that, as they say, ain’t peanuts:  Caddo’s half-again-as-high as Bossier property taxes have no doubt contributed greatly to its devastating population out-migration to Bossier and elsewhere … for decades.

If, in a couple of weeks, Bossier voters pass the Bossier Parish School Board’s tax package, and then follow by approving renewals of other property tax millages coming up in the next couple of years, its property tax will rise to over 70-mills.

With the possibility in the near future, therefore, of lower public school property taxes in Caddo (if Independent School Districts become fact), and with Bossier possibly jumping into the “government only knows how to grow and tax” sinkhole, all things about comparative taxes between the two neighboring parishes may well even-out, if not shift to a Caddo Parish advantage.

(The conventional wisdom – and loud claim in Bossier – that BPSB public schools are far better than CPSB’s bears closer scrutiny.  Even without it, for present purposes, the BPSB’s state-issued grade of “C” and CPSB’s “D” (Report is here) means that neither system can claim to be a shining educational light for its children.  Each system features a relative few very good schools, some very bad ones, and a lot somewhere in between.  CPSB’s high number of failing urban schools is the difference.  In any case, changes just passed by the legislature will upset all such grade measures, as will the impending state-takeover of many of Caddo’s failing urban schools.)

Thus, Well-Justified Opposition to the BPSB Plan by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce

Some of you may know that the Bossier Chamber of Commerce has announced its opposition to the BPSB tax-and-spend plan.  Given data I reported to you a few months ago about how relatively little school enrollment increase there has been over time in Bossier, or anywhere else in our neck of the woods, the Chamber’s position makes very good sense.  ‘Fact is, the BPSB is about to embark on a building spree that is unjustified by objective data:  its strong population gains have not been proportionate among school-aged children, and cannot be expected to be in the future, either.  As is often the case, this is about one taxing entity – BPSB – grabbing up any possible tax increase “slack” (?) before other taxing entities – Bossier City, Bossier Parish Police Jury, Sheriff’s office, etc. – can do so.

Congratulations to the Bossier Chamber for having the courage to do what is rarely done anywhere, and NEVER done in the Free State of Bossier:  oppose the local political Bossmen and the lust among most government officials to tax-tax-tax and spend-spend-spend.

Bossier has had a very fortuitous run for a quarter-century or so, but it is not immune from the disease of relatively “rich” cities and parishes taxing and spending themselves into protracted decline.

If Bossier folk need a nearby example to study and see the future with high taxes, they need look no further than their next-door neighbor across Red River, where the population has grown a dismal 1.9% since President Jimmy Carter was voted out of office.

Elliott Stonecipher

Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest.  No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work.

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