Lubbock City Council members will meet with the public and city staff to discuss improvements to the new storm water fee system, implemented in January 2015, before convening in a work session next month with new recommendations.

At the crowded March 12 meeting, council members agreed that the new fees, based on impervious area, were not implemented in an equitable manner with low- and fixed-income families, some businesses and churches being heavily impacted. Councilman Victor Hernandez said council members needed to step back and reassess individual goals for setting the rates and said he would like to see a stable rate structure without exemptions.

Mayor Robertson said he would like to see a separate three-tier system put into place for both commercial and residential properties. He recommended $10, $15 and $20 rates for the residential tiers but said his figures for the commercial tier needed work after mentioning

Councilman Hernandez and Mayor Glen Robertson both agreed that all citizens and businesses within Lubbock benefit from storm water infrastructure and that all entities including non-profits and churches should have to help “shoulder the burden”.

Some tentative improvements council members discussed included transferring some storm water debt to the general fund gradually, which would be reflected in property tax increases, said Robertson; postponing further storm water projects that would cost the city more than $30 million, which would leave some Lubbock property owners paying flood area insurance said councilwoman Latrelle Joy.

The storm water debt currently sits at $140 million, according to council members.

After listening to lengthy citizen comments on the rates including several proposed structures, council members instructed city staff to plan a council work session dedicated solely to storm water rates. In the interim council members said they will work on updated recommendations with the help of city staff and public input.

Mayor Robertson said in doing so, the council could create a “better mouse trap” but asked citizens to bear with the council until the proper research and work could be conducted. He also reiterated Councilman Hernandez’s comments from the previous meeting by saying no system will please every citizen and entity in Lubbock.

Mayor Robertson and all members of the council welcome the public to contact their representative to propose plans for the future of Lubbock’s storm water fee structure.