City leaders offer explanations for $1.1 billion debt - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

City leaders offer explanations for $1.1 billion debt

Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Nearly $1.1 billion dollars... It sounds like an ominous number when you hear that's what the City of Lubbock owes right now.

While it seems like a lot, city leaders say the spending was necessary. The state comptroller's office released a report on Tuesday, ranking Lubbock's debt as the seventh highest in the state, despite being the 11th largest city. The real question is, where did 1.1 billion dollars go?

"That is a number we used to think didn't exist. And I'm sitting here looking at it," Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson said.

Gibson tells us storm water, waste water, LP&L and street maintenance have all contributed to the city's $1,055,422,00 debt.

If the citizens were forced to foot the bill per capita, each person would have to cut a check for $4,471.

Although Gibson admits the number is troubling, she says wasteful spending isn't at fault.

"It's stuff that we have to have. We have to have it. We have to have water. We have to have lift stations," Gibson said.

Gibson says a big part of the debt is in water.

'We've got $329.9 million in water. That's where the majority of our debt is. It's for the plant and the pipeline," Gibson said.

Mayor Glen Robertson says Lubbock should look to cities like Amarillo.

"We've got to realize that this is a city that's just a little smaller than us that their debt is less than $200 million. Ours is more than $1.1 billion," Robertson said.

Both Robertson and Gibson agree that cuts are necessary if this number is ever going to get smaller.

"What do you want to keep and what do you want to get rid of? I really think this is something this council's going to have to look at," Gibson said.

The mayor said this is the first year they have decreased the city's debt. City leaders expect to continue that streak and hope to be below the billion dollar mark in eight months or so.

Copyright 2013 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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