Storm water summary judgment hearing held Thursday

Storm water fee lawsuit (Source: KCBD)
Storm water fee lawsuit (Source: KCBD)
Updated: Dec. 7, 2017 at 5:54 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A judge will soon decide the fate of a lawsuit over the City of Lubbock's storm water fees. A summary judgment hearing was held at the Lubbock County Courthouse on Thursday morning.

KCBD was able to sit down with John Beck's attorney after the hearing.

"The foremost reason why this action was brought by John Beck and his company, Beck Steel, was because of his concerns as a rate payer and as a resident of Lubbock about the fiscal responsibilities of Lubbock's leaders," said Attorney Terry Salazar.

During Thursday's hearing, the plaintiffs, John Beck and Beck Steel, told the court why they believe portions of the city's use of drainage fees are improper and result in overcharging rate payers.

They identified three spending actions the city has engaged in with drainage fees that they argue are unauthorized.

The city is using drainage revenues to pay for general obligation debt.

Also, they say included in the city budget is a franchise fee and payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) that the plaintiffs do not believe the city has the authorization to collect.

Beck's attorney, Salazar, says they are hoping for two remedies.

First, Beck wants the city to stop collecting the disputed fees. Second, he has asked the court to order the city to refund the disputed fees to the ratepayer.

"The law's pretty clear," Salazar said. "When the city improperly overcharges a rate payer, or tax payer, and they collect money they're not entitled to, those rate payers or tax payers are entitled to a refund."

While this case was undoubtedly complex, each side praised the other for the cooperation and goodwill exhibited in the discovery process.

"Mr. Beck's legal council's willingness to work with the city saved both sides a lot of money," said Assistant City Attorney Jeff Hartsell, who argued the city's case.

The city released this statement after the hearing:

"Today, the City of Lubbock presented its position in the Beck Steel litigation. The City appreciates the court for hearing this complex case and looks forward to a decision on this important matter which has been pending for two years."

We're told the judge is expected to make a decision by January.

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