UPDATED: Glover announces task forces for street repairs, retirement funding

Shreveport Mayor forms task forces for street repairs, retirement funding

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Mayor Cedric Glover announced Tuesday plans to form two separate panels to study Shreveport's deteriorating streets and ways to fund improvements, as well as effective methods to address the rising costs of retirement benefits.

Glover announced the creation of an Employee Benefits Funding Task force to analyze a range of benefits, the City's growing obligation to fund its pension program in particular.

According to a statement released by the Mayor's office, "Shreveport, like other U.S. cities, is grappling with ways to meet skyrocketing pension costs. Experts agree that this escalation is largely due to the increasing cost of medical expenses and the fact that retirees are living longer, thus the pool of those covered is growing annually. For example, Shreveport had 683 retirees receiving benefits in 2001. That number grew to 898 in 2010 and is expected to keep growing."

The Mayor is forming a separate "Mayor's Streets Task Force" panel to address the hot-button topic of Shreveport streets.  He hopes the council will give them $500,000 to conduct a pavement inventory review and management study.

"It's a process that uses a set of equipment that's truck mounted that drives the various streets of your city.  What it does is essentially provides kind of an MRI of the condition of the surface, of the midlevel, as well as its base," said Glover.

The committee will also recommend a funding plan to the city council.  Glover says he will ask the council to help him appoint people to the committee including neighborhood leaders, business leaders, and some of the people who opposed his bond proposal.

The City Council on Tuesday rejected a plan to use a potion of the revenue gained from the City's AEP/SWEPCO franchise fee increase as leverage to buy up to $94 million in revenue bonds that would be used to reduce the current backlog of nearly $200 million in repairs and construction.

For now, there is $21-million available to split between the 7 districts in the City of Shreveport.  Glover says each district will get about $3 million to start making repairs, but he worries the more expensive repairs will never get done.

"They will never be done.  They will continue to deteriorate.  The cost will go from $12 million to $14 million to $16 million.  The streets will become less and less stable." said Glover.

Both panels are expected to be in place by January 2012, and reports are expected by the end of the March.

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