1. The current administration is leaving with Shreveport roughly $800 million in debt, and its bond rating having declined. What will your administration do to overcome that problem? (Will you raise taxes?)
"Read my lips...no new taxes!"
In terms of city debt, by the end of 2006 it will stand at roughly $600 million. If the city continues to make just the same payment each year that it has been making, 60% of that debt will be paid off in ten years. No one likes debt, but it only becomes a problem if we cannot pay it and we are in no danger of that. There has never been a time---even in the darkest days of our oil ‘depression' in the state that Shreveport was in danger of not making a debt payment. Incurring debt is a necessity for a city. There are no cities that have millions of dollars just lying around to build new sewer plants and do major upgrades to water plants, do aggressive city-wide street repairs and other things that cities must do to survive and thrive. All depend on bonding money and paying it back over time. It's very similar to buying a house. Most of us can't just write a check for the whole amount, so we put in a down payment and get a mortgage that allows us to purchase it over a period of years.
About $300 of the debt the city is carrying was incurred in prior mayoral administrations, and about $300 was incurred over the last eight years during a period of historically low interest rates. What those interest rates (some as low as two percent) allowed the city to do was borrow money very cheaply to make improvements that we see all around the city: the convention center, Independence Stadium, improvements to our water plant, new sewer lift stations, road improvements, park upgrades and much more.