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Lubbock City Council Approves In-House Search For New City Manager, Holds Tax Rate Public Hearing

Cole Shooter,

The Lubbock City Council heard from a number of citizens at their meeting Thursday evening.

Twenty-five citizens turned out to voice their opinion on issues such as the Lubbock Power and Light electric rate, Market Lubbock and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, the City of Lubbock’s debt load, and annexation.

Mike McDougal, Chairman of the Board of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance and Market Lubbock, Inc. spoke out against a half-cent tax cut proposed by Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson, which would have cut the group’s funding by around $612,000.

McDougal said that cutting the funding for the organizations would increase their debt substantially.

“For two years, we’ve been hearing Council’s concern about the more than $1 billion in City debt. We share that concern,” said McDougal. “Economic development grant funding to MLI is used to build public infrastructure primarily in the Lubbock Business Park. Without this funding, LEDA would be forced to borrow a projected $37 million for capital improvements within the next six years.”

McDougal continued, saying that Market Lubbock, Inc. and LEDA have helped create more than 12,000 jobs in the area since 1996.

Citizen Doug Carr disagreed with McDougal’s assessment of LEDA and Market Lubbock, Inc.

“Implement not only the half-cent tax rate decrease used to finance Market Lubbock, go a step further…and cut the full three cents. The voters have spoken loud and clear on that,” said Carr.

The Council also held the first public hearing regarding the fiscal year 2013-14 proposed tax rate. The FY 2013-14 proposed tax rate is $0.50441 per $100 of home valuation.

The proposed tax rate is 1.23 cents higher than last year’s rate, meaning that if the rate is ultimately approved, a Lubbock homeowner with a $100,000 home would pay another $12.30 in property taxes.

Nine citizens spoke during the public hearing for the tax rate, most suggesting that they do not favor a tax increase.

The second public hearing regarding the proposed tax rate is scheduled for Thursday, August 29th at 6:15 p.m. The first public hearing over the City’s proposed budget is also scheduled for Thursday, August 29th at 6:15 p.m.

If the proposed tax rate is approved by the Council, the amount of taxes imposed on the average home by the City would be $584.73, up from the current fiscal year’s $568.81.

The Council will consider final approval to the tax rate and budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year on September 10th.

The Council also chose the City of Lubbock’s Human Resources department to do the search for the City’s next city manager.

Choosing to do the search in-house is also projected to be a cheaper alternative, with a base fee from an outside firm costing about $25,000. Overall, Human Resources estimated that having an outside firm conduct the search would cost about $60,000. The City’s HR department anticipates that their cost to do the search would be $36,775.

They anticipate that a new city manager could start in early October of 2014.

This comes after the firing of former City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld on July 15th. The Council appointed James Loomis, director of Lubbock’s Preston Smith International Airport, as interim city manager shortly after Dumbauld’s firing.

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