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Citizens Speak Out Against Lubbock Power & Light at Lubbock City Council Meeting

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

At Tuesday evening’s Lubbock City Council meeting, a number of people turned out to voice displeasure with their Lubbock Power and Light bills.

Mikel Ward discussed the issue with the Council, saying “Since the exorbitant LP&L bills hit, they have come out and insulted our intelligence with a series of every lame excuse imaginable except the dog ate their homework.”

“None of these hold up to scrutiny and only inflame the angry customers even more. We had hopes that the LP&L board yesterday would address some of these, but they were more concerned about recovering their $3 million from this alleged undercharge instead of dealing with the outrageous bills,” Ward continued.

Citizen Jama Merritt also weighed in, saying “There are people that can’t buy their food, medicines, can’t pay a car payment, a house payment, insurance, all of that…I want LP&L to be held accountable for everything they’ve done to us.”

“Where is LP&L going to be when half of the citizens have moved to other areas because LP&L is a monopoly? It’s wrong, people,” Merritt continued.

Former Lubbock County Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez chided the Council, saying “There are a lot of folks in this community that are living on fixed incomes…and when you raised the rate…you’re hurting families in this town. There was not one single person yesterday at the protest that said ‘I’m not going to pay.’ Every one of them were resigned that they had to pay, otherwise it means lighting a candle. It means cooking in the backyard.”

The Council did not have any agenda items focusing on LP&L rates, so they were unable to discuss the issue with the citizens that spoke on the subject.

The Lubbock Memorial Civic Center will get a new roof soon, following a unanimous vote by the Council for the contractor for the replacement project. The job went to CS Advantage USAA, Inc. of College Station. That project will cost $1,328,000.

The Council also unanimously reapproved the City’s juvenile curfew, which must be renewed every three years. Juveniles under 16 years old are not allowed to be in public places without adult supervision from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. The curfew extends to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Two requests for annexations in South Lubbock went undecided, as there was some concern over whether or not the public hearing was properly posted. They will hold the public hearings and consider the items for the 76 acres one-half mile south of Farm-to-Market Road 1585, just east of Quaker Avenue and an 80 acre area just north of Farm-to-Market 1585, just east of Flint Avenue, at their next meeting.

The Council also chose to postpone action relating to issues related to the process of employee evaluation of City Attorney Sam Medina and City Secretary Becky Garza.

In the Council work session, they heard a presentation regarding the City’s Board of Health and their recommendations regarding oil and gas fracturing in the City of Lubbock.

The presentation, given by Dr. Anne Epstein, focused on public risks of fracking, which can include depletion of water resources, risk of groundwater contamination, toxic air emissions, and nuisances such as increased wear and tear on roads from more trucks moving in and out of the area.

The Board of Health recommended that those coming in for fracturing operations could use non-potable water and reuse their fracking water to minimize the use of fresh water, and that the groups should disclose their fracking fluid contents before beginning to drill.

They also held that the biggest risks for groundwater contamination are pits for fracking fluid storage, which can be reduced by using closed loop drilling.

The board also recommended that an increase in well setbacks from residential property could be beneficial to residents. The current well setback in Lubbock is 300 feet. The presentation also presented evidence from a study that found that people living 500 feet or less from wells had five times the rate of illness due to air pollutants, and the area of Flower Mound showed decreased property values within 1,000 to 1,500 feet of a well.

During the first part of the meeting, the Council also recognized a group of students from Musashino, Japan, Lubbock’s sister city, and presented them with Texas flags flown over the Texas capitol.

This meeting was also the first for James Loomis as interim City Manager. He was appointed by the Council last week as a temporary replacement following the Council’s firing of former City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld.

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