LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – In addition to setting tax rates for the coming year, City Council on Thursday took up a seemingly less important issue, which is to make Lubbock Power & Light pay for the city street lights. It was, by far, the more emotional of the two items before the City Council.
"I've seen history repeat itself, and I think that's what we'll see in this," says Mayor Tom Martin, who was District 5 City Councilman in 2002 when LP&L was in a financial meltdown.
More than 150 people faced layoffs. Some escaped layoffs by retraining and transferring to different city jobs. The city recovered but current leaders don't want to go down that road again.
Martin sounded somber, to say the least, as he said, "I was on the council shortly after being elected and finding out the entire city was about six months away from bankruptcy, and we had to make some terrific cuts."
Before the LP&L financial crash, the city made LP&L pay for things like a truck fleet for the city, secretary salaries at city hall and street lights. Councilman Paul R. Bean too wants to be sure the city doesn't make the same mistake twice.
"There's always a place to start taking money from someone else piggy bank but never a place to stop," says Beane.
Neither Beane nor Councilman Todd Klein were on City Council during the financial meltdown, but Klein says street lights are related to power and so LP&L should do its fair share. With more than $94 million in the bank, Klein says LP&L is not going bankrupt over street lights.
Councilman Victor Hernandez was on the council in 2002 and he's okay with the street lights once again becoming an LP&L burden.
"I think it's important that we learn from that lesson," says Hernandez. "So I do believe there are people out in the community who will continue to remind this council and future councils about what happened in the past and making sure it doesn't happen in the future."
The council voted 5 to 2 in favor of the budget, which includes the street light issue.
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