Storm Water Fee Could Hurt School Budgets - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/24/08

Storm Water Fee Could Hurt School Budgets

On Thursday, the Lubbock City Council will look at a proposal to tax themselves, along with school districts and the county for storm water.  

Councilman John Leonard suggested the change during the September 11th meeting, when city leaders discussed a fee increase needed to cover costs for the South Lubbock Drainage Project and others.  Schools and the county have been exempt from this fee for years, but Councilman Leonard tells NewsChannel 11 everyone should pay their fair share.

The proposed increase raised residential rates by about $1 per month, while commercial rates went up by about $7 per month. Eliminating the exemptions would reduce rates by about 7 cents for residential customers and by about 47 cents for commercial customers.

One council member says the savings aren't worth it. "The budget has already been approved back in August," Lubbock City Councilwoman Linda DeLeon said. 

DeLeon is talking about the Lubbock Independent School District's budget. The proposed changes to storm water fees would cost LISD more than $82,000. "All of a sudden you're coming in and saying we want $82,000 more than, they never expected," DeLeon said. 

Deleon says the city is not looking at the total picture.  "We get a lot of freebies," DeLeon said. 

DeLeon tells NewsChannel 11 that LISD does not charge the city to use their facilities for town hall meetings, use of the aquatic center and more. "This facility (Pete Ragus Aquatic Center) is used almost on a daily basis by city employees at no cost to them. Well, if we're going to charge another taxing entity $82,000, that free stuff is going to stop," DeLeon said. 

LISD Spokesperson Nancy Sharp says no decisions have been made. "The superintendent and the mayor have been in conversation. We've worked in collaborative way with sharing facilities with the city for years and we feel confident we're going to work this out," Sharp said. 

Dropping the exemptions would also affect Lubbock-Cooper and Frenship Independent School Districts.  Councilwoman DeLeon says the change would cost more than any savings. "I just think it's a very bad deal for all of us all the way around," DeLeon said. 

Councilman Leonard says the issue needs to be looked at. He says if it does not pass Thursday, he will suggest that staff revisit the issue, earlier, so if changes are made, school districts and the county would have more warning.

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