City vs. LP&L showdown Wednesday; or maybe not - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/14/10

City vs. LP&L showdown Wednesday; or maybe not

By James Clark | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It could be a showdown or it could be much ado about nothing; nobody will know until after Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. 

Lubbock Electric Utility Board meets jointly with Lubbock City Council and to quote the EUB Chairman W.R. Collier "everything is on the table." 

Water Meters & Billing At Stake

A broadly worded item on the EUB agenda seems to give board members the option to stop reading Lubbock water meters should the board so desire.  Collier is very clear that he does not know what the board will do.

Another possibility is to make City Hall pay more for water meters and water billing, etc. 

Right now the city pays LP&L a little more than $5 million per year to read water meters and bill for city services such as water, sewer, and storm water.  No one has been able to yet give KCBD NewsChannel 11 an estimate on what it would cost the city to perform those functions without LP&L. 

Street Lights & Feelings Of Betrayal

It could become the latest skirmish in a war of words between City Hall and Lubbock Power & Light.  The City Council recently voted 5 to 2 in favor of forcing LP&L to pay for both electricity and maintenance on city street lights, estimated to be $3 million in value.  It frees up money for pay raises for city employees.

But the move also causes a deep sense of betrayal.

The Electric Utility Board was put in charge of many LP&L functions by a citywide charter election in the wake of LP&L 2003 financial disaster.  LP&L had been made to pay for many items at city hall, not the least of which was street lights in the days before its collapse.

Board members not only feel like the city is not listening but they also feel like the city violated a "gentlemen's agreement".   Both sides had agreed earlier in the year that if city hall wanted more money officials would say so prior to April.  Likewise if LP&L wanted to stop providing certain services like billing and/or reading water meters their officials would say so prior to April.

Street lights came up in August to the shock and dismay of board members who thought they had a deal for the coming year.

(Clarification:  In an earlier version of this story the word "not" was missing.  It has been corrected now to say Collier is very clear that he does not know what the board will do.)

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