Hub City Representation on Capitol Hill Comes at a Cost - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/9/08

Hub City Representation on Capitol Hill Comes at a Cost

With a 6-1 vote Thursday at the Lubbock City Council meeting, the couuncil voted to spend nearly $230,000 on two lobbying firms to represent Lubbock in Austin and Washington D.C. But in contacting other cities we learned the City of Dallas spends about $480,000 on representation. So does Lubbock, which is six times smaller than Dallas, need to spend about half what Dallas spends on the same thing?

Another issue on the council agenda Thursday was where that $230,000 will come from. It's coming from the city's water and waste water fund. So, another question is, what does lobbying in Austin and especially Washington have to do with water and waste water here?

According to some on the council, more than you might think.

"I need some clarification of why we are taking money from the water and waste water budgets to pay for this lobbyist," said Council Member Linda Deleon.

DeLeon was the lone dissenter on the council Thursday for agenda items 5-1 and 5-2. They authorized the city to spend that $230,000 out of the water and waste water operating budgets on lobbying in Austin and Washington, D.C.

"We just raised the sewer fees by 20% and it just seems like when we don't have the money within our budget we're going into these funds to pay for items that I think should be in our budget," said DeLeon.

But others on the city council like Councilman Paul Beane and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gilbreath believe this money is vital to the city's growth and well being. "We're isolated out here in West Texas and I think unfortunately as far as the legislature in Austin it's us against the world out here," said Beane.

"A lot of the work that will be done in Austin, and in Washington for that matter, will be directed at our water supplies, to our water infrastructure," added Gilbreath.

Even councilman Floyd Price agreed the money has to be spent to assure the Hub City gets good representation. "We are in a big fight with the I-35 corridor people and of course their representation there in those areas is great than ours here in west Texas," said Price.

"I think that the money that is in these budgets that is water and waste water should be used for our community here locally and not for lobbyists," added DeLeon.

But despite that argument, the agenda items passed 6-1.

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