Lubbockites to Decide Future of LP&L - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/18/04

Lubbockites to Decide Future of LP&L

Lubbock voters will decide this election if too many hands are dipping into Lubbock Power and Light's "cookie jar." Members of city council and the LP&L board criticize past city leaders for leaving the utility's finances in shambles. Now, they want to prevent it from happening again. 

Lubbock Power and Light is on the road to recovery and it is operating in the black. If voters pass proposition number one, proponents say that will continue. No more spending more than LP&L takes in, no more $4 million skyboxes at the arena. Instead proponents of proposition number one hope LP&L customers will see low rates and maybe even checks in their mailboxes.

Councilman Tom Martin says, "The purpose of the charter amendment is for citizens to say they want LP&L to be run by an independent board appointed by city council rather than under the city manager." Martin says by putting LP&L under a board of appointed business people, it will run like a private business, offer some of the lowest electric rates in the state and keep customer service levels high. He says, "It'll still be owned by the city and therefore the citizens of Lubbock, but on a day to day operating basis, operate more like a traditional business than a city beauracracy."

W.R. Collier, President of American State Bank and an LP&L board member believes this is one of the most important election decisions Lubbock citizens have to make. He spoke to NewsChannel 11 today not as a board member but as a long time Lubbock resident. He says once LP&L's reserves are built back up and the utility starts making a profit, customers can expect a refund. He says, "They'll get a check in the mail, but I want to emphasize it won't be next month."

Political watchdog and Lubbock resident, Mikel Ward, supports the proposition to change LP&L's charter. She says anything is better than the way beauracrats have handled its finances in the past. However, she urges citizens to keep council and board members on their toes saying, "My concern is profits are supposed to go back into the general fund when they make aprofit, but this year's budget book only had seven lines concerning the whole LP&L budget. Board members say LP&L's finances will be made public."

Ward also expressed concern over whether or not LP&L will have to pay taxes and franchise fees as its competitors do. Collier told NewsChannel 11 as soon as the company starts turning a profit, they will pay both.

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