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Bossier City to make $60 million in upgrades

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The City of Bossier City is poised to make $60 million worth of upgrades to the city.

The city is using $60 million worth of new bonds to make upgrades to various elements such as new roads, expansion of current roads, animal control, parks and recreation, and a new council on aging building.

However, the bond won’t cost taxpayers any money as the debt service will be paid via a redirected sales tax.

Citizens passed a .25-cent sales tax in 1982 that would go towards funding a police and fire pension. Since the pension has been fully funded, that ordinance says the portion of sales tax can now be used by the city for improvements.

“We’re saving money. To the citizen, he or she won’t see a millage increase. We’re utilizing the same pennies coming in to put projects back on the ground in Bossier City,” explained Bossier City Chief Administrative Officer Pam Glorioso.

The largest share of the bond issue is dedicated to Bossier Parks and Recreation, with $20 million going to various projects such as new playground equipment, concessions and restroom upgrades, LED lighting renovations, building youth baseball/softball fields behind Tinsley Park, and turning Tinsley’s baseball/softball complex fields into turf fields.

“We believe parks and recreation is important. Having a child be able to go out and play ball helps as a way to deter crime. It means our crime statistics are lower than they would be otherwise,” said Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker.

Glorioso said these improvements are not only aimed at city residents, but to act as an attractor for lucrative tournaments.

“It’s a sign of the times. To compete and bring in these tournaments, we’re competing against other places that have turf fields,” she said. “It’s an improvement for the quality of life of our citizens and to bring in teams for tournaments for an economic windfall.”

The second largest portion of the funds is $17.4 million to complete the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway. This is a new major roadway for Bossier City that will continue the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway north from its current end towards Benton Road just south of I-220.

The total project cost is $55 million, of which the city already has $37.6 million budgeted.

“The right of way has gotten a little larger and with the designs and contingency we need in order to meet (Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development) requirements, we’re short about $17.4 million,” Glorioso explained.

Other major projects included in the bond are $6 million for a new Bossier Council on Aging Community Center and $1 million for Bossier City Animal Control.

Glorioso said BCOA will need $3.5 to $4 million of that $6 million solely for a new building. She said they are looking at a new location near City Hall.

“As our population is aging and getting to senior level, we need a nice facility. I know there has been talk to put it where new YMCA would be located in north Bossier (near the North Bossier Park off Benton Road), but I think we need a central location,” Glorioso added.

“On Animal Control, we know that (this funding) is going to be a bandaid. We know we need a bigger unit that’s easier to operate. We need another $1.5 to $2 million to build the facility we need,” she added.

Other road projects included in the list are $2.6 million in matching funds for the widening of Viking Drive. It is has been designated as a federal project, meaning the Federal Highway Administration will fund the other 80 percent of the project cost.

There is also $1.5 for the expansion of Coleman Street. The state has already given the city $1.3 million for the expansion that will run it from its current end near Bearkat Drive to the new $35 million medical development in the East Bank District.

Administration also included $1 million for the rehab of POW/MIA Drive in front of City Hall, $3 million to design and build the connection of Melrose to Plantation Drive on through to the Viking Drive Industrial Park, and $500,000 for cost overruns on the Shed Road widening project.

There is also $2.5 million budgeted for city wide drainage repairs, and $1.5 million set aside for new concrete along the Plantation Trace ditch.

“This is so we don’t run into flooding problems. This will allow us to bring in a specialty crew to clean drainage around the city,” Glorioso said.

The bond issue is expected to be completed by the end of this year or the first of 2019.