Lubbock City Council Postpones Storm Water Rate Discussion, Passes Compensation Study Exemptions
At an unusually brief meeting on Thursday, September 25, the Lubbock City Council discussed board and committee appointments, zoning changes, exemption status for certain positions from the city’s compensation study, and the city’s litigation against the Omni Building. The council was slated to take action concerning proposed storm water rate increase, but council woman Latrelle Joy requested the 2nd ordinance reading to be moved to the second meeting in October due to the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gerlt.
The council voted 4-2 to exempt the City Manager, Secretary and Attorney, as well as the Director and General Counsel of Lubbock Power & Light from the city’s compensation study with council woman Karen Gibson and Mayor Robertson dissenting. The study was initiated to put a cap on raises for city employees. Mayor Glen Robertson said the exemption raises some concerns but does not expect the average citizen to be impacted.
"I think this will free up City Council and the LP&L board to make better hires," said Robertson. "I do have concerns that we will see runaway spending at LP&L, which we’ve already seen in the past.”
During executive session the council discussed potential actions concerning the Omni Building which currently sits abandoned downtown. The city is currently in litigation with Lubbock Omni Building Inc. and can potentially purchase the building. At this time, the council is continuing to gather information to determine whether or not the city would like to renovate and re-house certain departments in the building or other options such as leasing or demolition. Early cost estimates place the renovation of the building at around $40 million and its destruction at $12 million.
"We had a very good, healthy discussion on what are our options and we requested our staff to gather more information," said Robertson, "because we still don’t feel like we have enough solid facts to make a good discussion.”
Mayor Robertson said some questions that the council still has include, “If we could repurpose it what could be used in it? How many departments could be consolidated into the building? Could it be used for a police department?”
The council also made various board and committee appointments with council members Latrelle Joy and Floyd Price presenting. Councilman Price even sang happy birthday to Sheila Harris, a new appointment to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Lastly, the council was forced to postpone the authorization of contracts for work on the Preston Smith International Airport in lieu of funding. Earlier in September, it was announced that the Department of Transportation granted $14.7 million to the airport for runway repairs. The contract authorizations will be postponed until the federal funding has been received.