Opinion: Marty Carlson – We should support the port tax


We should support the port tax

Last week most Caddo and Bossier Parish voters probably found a “Vote for Jobs” mailer in their mail boxes that encourages a vote in favor of the 25-year renewal of the 2.5 mill property tax for the Port of Caddo-Bossier, which has been and will continue to be instrumental in creating greater job growth for our corner of the state.
Caddo and Bossier Parish voters will want to support this renewal just as they supported the initial millage investment in creating the Port a quarter of a century ago.
The election will be held April 9, 2016; early voting is slated for March 26 through April 2, 2016.

There are a number of reasons for voters to support this renewal, and a perusal of Sean Green’s December 7, 2015 BIZ. Magazine piece provides a compelling rationale for voters to continue their small annual investment in a well-run job growth enterprise.
In part, Green explains: “The Port Commission was created in 1962 as a governmental body that runs the port as a business, which means as a hybrid organization, it has to meet both public- and profit-oriented goals. Their public goals are job creation and dollar investment. Their profit goal is simple: ROI (return on investment).
“It means our focus cannot be lopsided on one side or the other,” said Executive Port Director Eric England. “For example, the bottom line is constant. We’ve made the commitment to create jobs but the tax payers in Bossier and Caddo look to us to run the organization so that (it) is profitable and yields a good investment.”
“The citizens of Caddo and Bossier Parishes have contributed $80M since 1993 through a 2.5 mills dedicated property tax. The return has totaled more than $1.5 billion …”
Now there’s a reason to ensure that the millage continues, and then there’s the future.
The Port’s access to just about every transportation mode – barge, rail, motor freight and air make it an ideal location for businesses and their growth. Presently, the Port is home to 17 companies employing 1,500 people. Companies that make their home at the Port include Bentler Steel/Tube, Genesis Energy, Calumet Packaging, Oakley Louisiana, Inc., and Pratt Industries Paper Mill and Recycling Facility – to name just a few. Last October, the Port’s board passed a proposal to dramatically increase the Port’s size and employment opportunities by thousands of more jobs in the future.
The reason: While the Port is located on about 2,300 acres along the Red River, the Bentler Steel/Tube facility’s addition to the Port left only about 700 acres on which to locate future business development. According to Green, the Port “… is looking at 18 candidate sites in both Bossier and Caddo Parishes to add another 3,000 acres over the next several decades … the estimated price tag is $30M to $60M.”
And the availability of developable property for new businesses means more jobs – jobs that pay for raising a family and enjoying the amenities offered by Caddo and Bossier Parishes.
Notably, however, in a May 14, 2015 KTBS television news story, England made an ever so relevant observation about those jobs: “The jobs that have been created certainly would not have come to this region had it not been for the Port Commission,” he said.
Green cited England’s acknowledgment of the support and foresight of Caddo and Bossier Parish voters in their support of the original millage approval saying, “We’re thankful and we’re proud of what they helped us accomplish … We have an eye on the future and want to duplicate the model for the next generation.”
The Port’s leadership has a record of commitment to ensuring that our public investment yields a respectable and sustainable return in both stewardship and business/job creation.
In today’s world, an investment in the Port is a rare opportunity to build jobs – jobs that really pay – now and for the future.
In anybody’s book, that’s a stellar reason to vote “yes” on April 9th to continue the Port’s millage for another quarter century of business development and job creation.

Marty Carlson is a
columnist for the BPT.
She may be reached at