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Taxes and the Growth of Lubbock

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I arrived in Lubbock in 2001 as a freshman at Texas Tech University. At that time, North Overton was a bunch of empty lots, Slide Road stopped at 4th street and if you went drove west of Frankford there was dirt. Driving past 98th Street for many meant that you were going out to that golf course south of town.

Lubbock has grown.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up here and my time in Lubbock has been relatively short but I can see the tremendous growth our city has seen even in the last ten years. I can see the growth, but it seems as though many in Lubbock can’t. Either that or they just aren’t impressed with it.

Last week Texas Tech hosted the Innovation & Economic Prosperity Forum. According to the Lubbock AJ, around 60 people attended the forum to discuss how Texas Tech could increase economic development in Lubbock and on the South Plains. They key for many was communication. Whether it be for partnering up with local or regional businesses, leaders said that Texas Tech should establish a person to handle it. It was also suggested that Tech architecture students come up with ideas to redevelop downtown Lubbock.

Sounds great right? Tech students can get more involved in the community and even leave their fingerprints on downtown. Doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all really.

The only problem I had with what came out of the forum was a quote from the President of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. According to the report, Eddie McBride said there was one other obstacle remaining.

Eddie McBride, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said another obstacle is anti-tax sentiment and an attitude of “no growth” among residents.

Really? How is an anti-tax sentiment hurting growth in Lubbock? Since I have lived in Lubbock there has been an anti-tax sentiment and so far it seems to be working well. In fact, I’d say it has helped growth in Lubbock. Governor Rick Perry has bragged about low-taxes in Texas for years and the state has been leading in job creation. Seems like anti-tax works.

Honestly though, Lubbock citizens aren’t anti-tax. Lubbock citizens have approved bond issues numerous times which have raised taxes. Poll after poll has shown that citizens overall support raising taxes if, and only if, it is needed. Citizens aren’t anti-tax when it comes to police, fire, water, infrastructure. Now, if citizens are asked about raising taxes for splash pads, they tend to say no.

Anti-growth? Sure, there are some citizens who complain about Lubbock growing to the south and southwest. Though many of those complaints seem to be politically based. Most citizens seem to favor growth, but natural growth. We have seen natural growth in southwest, west, and northwest Lubbock. We are even seeing natural growth in downtown Lubbock. The Performing Arts Center will only bring more growth downtown and that is how it should happen. One of my favorite restaurants is located downtown in fact and I’ve heard from numerous people that more restaurants are on their way which is great news.

I can only assume that McBride and others with the Lubbock Chamber are still mad about state lawmakers not taking up the plan to increase the local sales tax by a penny to pay for projects from Imagine Lubbock Together. Projects that are still unknown.

What I find odd is that the Lubbock Chamber continues to push for a tax increase when natural growth is occurring all over the city, including in downtown Lubbock. Surely the Chamber knows this is happening, so why keep pushing for a tax increase? Tax increases only hurt people and business. In Lubbock we keep hearing stories about people struggling to make it and going into what will probably be a hot Summer, LP&L bills won’t help. In Sunday’s AJ we learned that water problems continue to plague the city. Lake Alan Henry continues to get drier and much faster than leaders had planned.

Will Lubbock soon have to spend millions of dollars for another pipeline for another source of water? Don’t be surprised if that is a discussion that city leaders take up soon. If we do have to build a pipeline, how much more will our bills increase? Knowing this, it seems like continuing to push for a tax increase for Imagine Lubbock Together is just out of touch.

Lubbock has grown and will continue to grow as long as we continue to be smart. Higher taxes will come, but we must choose wisely between the wants and needs of this city.

 

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