Finalized City Budget, Police Raises, & More in Lubbock
Wednesday on Sunrise LBK with Dave King and Tom Collins, Lubbock City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Massengale joined Dave and Tom to talk about the finalized city budget, police raises soon taking effect, paying off city debt in cash, the downtown park project, and more.
Massengale started the discussion by saying that they had a lot on their plate last night, and the most important topic was the final reading of the city budget. The council has been working on it for about 6 weeks, which comes after the staff worked on it for several months prior, and Steve said that, "the big takeaway was we were able to reduce the tax rate." Massengale said that he believes it is a good budget, and that he is lucky to live in Lubbock where the economy has been resilient and recovered from COVID, where sales tax collections have been excellent, where housing is still affordable, where there's lots of jobs, and where the city is growing at a healthy rate. "That's the makings of a good deal in my mind," he said.
Still talking about money, the Councilman was asked to talk about police raises. He explained that Lubbock has been "under the market" for paying police compared to other nearby cities, and he didn't want that. He went on to applaud the city manager who got to work on the issue and got the city to a place where the police association wanted them to be. The council wants Lubbock to be the place for law enforcement jobs, and so starting pay went from 51 to over 60, making Lubbock the highest paid city in the region, although they will have to keep an eye on other cities to make sure that this stays the case. This raise results in about a $4.1 million adjustment, and will take place October 1st.
The Councilman also talked about paying off city debt. He feels that the city has done well lately at paying cash for things that needs paying cash for, such as vehicles and street maintenance. Previously, the city would finance street maintenance, and paying back the debt would last longer than the repair itself, which he said didn't make much sense. This year's budget has $11 million for street maintenance, which he says is not really enough, but that is how much cash they have to make sure that they don't go into debt. He reminds us that this is separate from the bond election set to take place in November that would result in a $175 million budget, not for maintenance, but for new or rebuilt streets. Affected streets would include Erskine from Ave S to I-17, finishing 34th street, 82nd from I-27 to MLK, finishing 114th street, Milwaukee, MLK from the Loop to 82nd, University from 98th to 114th, 98th from Upland to Alcove, Upland from 4th to 19th, and Broadway.
Finally, the Councilman talked about the downtown park project. He reminds us that they had an online survey concerning the park, with overwhelmingly supportive feedback. The city has recently released the concept for what the park would look like, the theme being "wind and water", with an initial price tag of about $5 million. Some of the park has already been funded by what they are calling the "downtown TIF". He also reminds us that this park is not funded out of the general fund. Massengale went on to say that they accepted a half a million dollar grant from a local foundation at a prior meeting, and he expects there will be more opportunity for private donations in the future.
Listen to the full interview with Councilman Steve Massengale in the audio above.