SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Louisiana’s local governments could be negatively impacted financially for years to come, according to an analysis of the impacts of Hurricane Laura and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report released by the state legislative auditor’s office projects significant revenue declines for 2021 and potentially through 2025.
Among the parishes most affected are Caddo, which the report ranks at No. 5, and Bossier Parish, which is ranked at No. 8.
“The hardest-hit parishes ... had all common that they have large tourism economies; a lot of them have casinos,” said Edward Seyler, an economist with the legislative auditor’s office.
In terms of the percentage reduction in revenues, Natchitoches Parish also is expected to take a big loss.
“Overall, local governments will see less revenues because of COVID-19 and the recession underway," Seyler said. “Now also because of Hurricane Laura. These effects could persist for several years.”
The budget shortfalls, in turn, would affect such entities as fire and school districts, law enforcement agencies, drainage and libraries.
“After 2021 is when I’m most concerned because we just don’t know the long-term fallout from this,” Bossier Parish library director Heather McEntee said.
The libraries should be fine for 2021, she predicted, adding that the parish does have emergency money, but it would not last long.
“That’s only about 3 months of bills,” McEntee explained.
Libraries are an essential part of the community, she said.
“A lot of people in the parish don’t have computers or don’t have internet access. The library provides that for them.
“A lot of them are wanting that face-to-face interaction with the librarians,” McEntee continued. "So much of that has been taken away.”