It was a day of straightening out the books at City Hall. The mood was tense at times and light at times, as council members plowed through the details of one of the most significant overhauls at City Hall in recent history.
City Councilmen Victor Hernandez and Gary Boren went back and forth on the best way to clean up City Hall. "The witch hunt is over. It's time to move on," says Hernandez.
"Our tax money belongs to homeowners. It doesn't belong to city hall bureaucrats who will do what they want to with it," says Boren.
Wednesday's presentation of the latest city audit revealed few problems. But most agree, that, in no way reflects the current state of city hall. With lingering issues like WTMPA's debt, LP&L's debt, budget deficits, rising utility costs, rising property taxes, and a vacancy in the city manager's office, the city is still in the midst of a major shakeup.
Also Wednesday, the accounting firm of Ernst and Young delivered its audit of the WTMPA. That audit revealed no evidence of illegal activities or intentional omissions. But, it did uncover numerous contract violations, including poor accounting practices that led to a $5.2 million debt. The WTMPA still owes Lubbock $4.7 million, but it has been paying the city back at a rate of $97,000 per month. The loan is a five year agreement.
Councilman Tom Martin believes once the debt is paid, it's time for the city to sever its relationship with the WTMPA. "So, it's time to get the books cleaned up, figure up the charges. All four member cities pony up the money they owe and shut this thing down and do it in house without all this additional overhead expense and the possibility of shady bookkeeping," says Martin.