Bossier City Councilman David Jones says that he is ‘gravely concerned’ about passage of the tax renewal on May 1st. In an email to My Bossier, Jones says “The city cuts were huge. There is nothing left to address the magnitude of the hole that non-passage would cause.” He goes on to say “the cuts would probably lead to fire station closures, lay-offs, and pay cuts. Not a threat, just the truth.”
On the increase in the pension fund, which is expected to cause another $1,000,000 shortfall in the 2010 budget, Jones says that it “is more of a legislative question. The State legislature has to change the system to make them more accountable to their members. Currently they can make terrible decisions and we have to make them whole again. There will be legislation offered this next session. Who knows if it will pass? Without a doubt, the pension is and will be the biggest problem in Bossier City's finances and current services will be sacrificed to make state mandated payments. The pension is the cause of our deficit.”
The retirement fund, the Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System, or MPERS, has been under investigation by the Attorney General since October. MPERS been criticized in recent years for investing in golf courses that never turned a profit, two of them in the Bossier Parish.
I asked Jones about the fact that Bossier City has trained so many policemen and firemen only to see them go to other departments. He answered that “it makes me sick to think that we paid for training for another department and that we purchased equipment that will sit on a shelf.”
When it comes to the tax renewal or the specter of facing more cuts, he says “people either want to pay for it, or they don't want it.”
During the budget process last fall, David Jones promised that he would not vote for a budget that contained any cuts to public safety. He kept true to his word, voting against the final compromise budget which did make those cuts.