City of Lubbock accused of overcharging, misusing storm water fees

Published: Aug. 4, 2015 at 9:14 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 2, 2016 at 10:35 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Business owner John Beck and his company Beck Steel Incorporated allege that the city is overcharging for storm water drainage and transferring those funds illegally.

But Mayor Glen Robertson says this lawsuit will actually just end up costing taxpayers money.

"It's just going to hurt every citizen in Lubbock and it's going to cost money to defend the lawsuit," Robertson said.

Mayor Robertson says though he cannot comment on the legality of the allegations made in the suit that was filed with the Lubbock County Clerk's office Monday morning, he says there is no basis to the case.

Terry Salazar, the attorney representing Beck and his company says he believes it's very clear that the City of Lubbock is violating state law.

"The core issue here is how much money is needed to be collected with the drainage fees in order to pay for the costs of service for storm water drainage to the citizens of Lubbock," Salazar said.

Salazar says a letter his client sent to the city in April went unanswered, so he met with the city's attorney in June to discuss how the city was handling storm water drainage fees. Salazar did eventually receive a letter, but he says it did not answer his questions, so the suit seemed like the only other option.

Salazar says "it's pretty clear" that the city is violating state law.

Mayor Robertson is concerned about the timing of the suit.

"I am concerned that it could keep this council from proceeding on with solving or at least try to come up with a more equitable solution to the way we currently bill for storm water," Robertson said.

Salazar says the legal question in this case is not only overcharging residents for the storm water fees, but also the allegations of transferring those funds to cover other city debt.

"The only debt obligations that the city can use storm water fees to pay are debt obligations where the drainage revenues were pledged for repayment," Salazar said.

The city tells us they have not yet been served with the lawsuit that was filed Monday morning.

We will continue to track this story and provide updates as we learn more.

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