Councilman Massengale Discusses Potential City Charter Changes, Lake 7 Development, and Downtown Park Plans
Wednesday on KFYO Mornings with Dave King and Matt Martin, Lubbock City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Massengale joined Dave and Matt to talk about last night's city council meeting, the wide variety of potential changes to the city's charter, police raises, the development of lake 7, the planned downtown park, and more.
The Councilman started the discussion by saying that the hot topic at the City Council meeting yesterday was them looking at potential changes to the city charter, with wide variety of things being looked at. He explained that they worked on it during the work session, then heard from their citizen's committee that is made up of an appointee from each council district, as well as a leader picked by the mayor, and determined what might need some revisions, and what those revisions would be before they would be voted on in the future, most likely in November. Massengale said that, while there are more recent revisions to the charter, many are very outdated, and he thinks some changes would make sense.
Massengale then went into the specifics of what charters have been proposed to be changed. One change would allow the city council to update the charter whenever state law preempts it, which would allow them to clean things up without needing to have a vote every time. Perhaps the biggest change that was proposed would be a compensation for the city council, allowing them a living wage. Currently, council members make $25 a month, and the Mayor makes $75 a month, but this change would allow the council to make $800 a month, and the Mayor to make $1,300 a month. Massengale himself does not support a living wage for the council, as he believes that serving on the council should just be a public service, however, he does see how this change would modernize things. Either way, he hopes that such a change would not happen in a way that benefits the current council, for fear that it would look like they are trying to raise their own wages.
Yet another charter proposal would change how signatures for petitions would work. Massengale explained that it refers to the Initiative referendum and recall process in the charter, which has previously never been updated. Currently, the charter calls for 25% of the last municipal election's signatures to push something through, so a municipal election of 20,000 people would only require 5,000 signatures. However, this adjustment would change the rule to something like 10% of the current registered voters, which would keep things more consistent from election to election. Currently, that would mean that a petition would require about 15,000 signatures. Yet another thing that has been discussed is implementing a waiting period for the city council to implement a change deemed to be unconstitutional or against state law. The waiting period would be 12 months, and would mean that the council could not repeal an ordinance for that time, whereas currently there is no waiting period for such changes.
The topic shifted when Massengale was asked if there has been talk at the council about raises for police. The Councilman said that he does believe in police raises, and wants to not only create a competitive wage in Lubbock, but believes that Lubbock should be the highest paying city in the region. He went on to explain, however, that there has been no talk from the city council as a collective on the topic yet, and he suspects that will come in August during their budget talks.
The Councilman also discussed the development of Lake 7, which would be located west of Buffalo Lakes. Massengale explained that it has been part of their long term Lubbock water supply plan for many years. Preparing such a lake would take decades, and Massengale said that we are probably 20 years into the process already, however, there is a ton of work that needs to be done before any dirt can be moved. He hopes that the lake will have a design that would allow for buildings to be developed around it.
Finally, the Councilman was asked for an update on the downtown park. Massengale said that they have now had 2 public hearings concerning the park, one virtual and one in-person, and have received a lot of input, the majority of which being very positive. He went on to explain that they have picked a concept for the park out of 3 designs, and what they expect next is for it to be 3d modelled, then presented to the council, and they will then take things from there. They do anticipate some private donations to come for the park, but they do not currently have a payment plan in place, as it is still just a plan. Massengale says that the city is invested in our parks in general, as they increase property values and quality of life, and thinks this park would be in a great spot, being near things like Broadway, the new South Plains College building, Citizens Tower, and the arts district.
Listen to the full interview with Steve Massengale in the audio above.