Council holds public hearing to discuss tax increase - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Council holds public hearing to discuss tax increase

District 5 Council Member Karen Gibson District 5 Council Member Karen Gibson
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson

The Lubbock City Council held a public hearing to discuss the 2015 budget on Thursday afternoon. One of the main discussion topics was a 6.01 percent property tax rate increase.

"I'm not really that opposed to the tax increase as long as it is used to repay debt or goes into a maintenance budget so we won't run into things down the road in the future that are going to cost us a lot of money," said one citizen who addressed the Council.

"I have spoken before in opposition to the tax rate increase, the primary reason of course is that it does affect mortgage rates in a major way," argued another.

The increase would make the tax rate nearly 53 cents per $100 valuation, meaning a person who owns a $100,000 dollar home in Lubbock would pay an extra $22 a year in property taxes.

"I have a strong feeling that it is time for me individually, not anybody else on this dais, to put aside any selfish, political considerations and do what I truly think is in the best interests of the city and the citizens going forward," said Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson.

He was one of the five council members that passed the first reading of the property tax increase. Karen Gibson and Jeff Griffith were the two who voted against the plan.

"The challenge I have is that the budget that's proposed and that they voted on today still has everything debt funded. You're still debt funding street maintenance, you're still debt funding pavilions, you're still debt funding playgrounds, everything in it with the 2.2 cent increase is still debt funding everything and that's the issue I have," said Councilwoman Gibson.

She has an amendment to the tax increase that she believes can put an end to future debt for the City without raising taxes. She plans to do that by cutting funding to certain projects and maintenance costs. Her plan was supposed to be presented today but after the council approved $207,000 dollars of funding to the police department for two additional pay step categories and a pay increase for Corporals, she had to recalculate her umbers.

"Do I do with what I saw today and do what's best with what I saw today, that's probably what I'll do going forward, I don't know what I'm going to do yet, you just have to regroup and move forward with it and that's what it's all about. You just compromise and keep moving," she said.

Gibson will be presenting her amendment at the council meeting next Thursday, but Mayor Glen Robertson doesn't feel it's a plan he can get behind.

"The proposal that I saw from Ms. Gibson tonight didn't address the financing of debt at all, all it did was decrease some expenses and it also raised the estimate for sales tax estimate but did nothing to solve the core problem we have as a city," he said. "We both agree that we need to make cuts. I think our core difference is I think we have to as a city, the only responsible thing to do, is to start tackling this debt immediately."

The council also voted unanimously to provide funding for Citibus routes 19 and 34, which were set to be canceled.

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