28 Oct

Lubbock’s debt is on the rise and the SPARTAN (South Plains Area Taxpayer Network) watchdog group is concerned. According to Mikel Ward, the city’s debt has nearly doubled in 3 years.

Lubbock’s current bond indebtedness in principle is $697,635,000. The interest that we owe on that is $310,567,870. Put that together and it adds up to over 1 BILLION DOLLARS. The City is also looking at adding $178,368,437 in new debt after the bond election for water. Oh and that doesn’t have to be voted on. Here is a breakdown from

Funding Source                                  Principal              Interest
Property Tax                                  $ 106,303,936         39,168,727
Hotel Tax                                                 1,144,548               606,656
LP&L Revenues                                   81,588,473          33,015,027
TIF Property Tax                                35,092,784         18,435,227
Franchise Fees                                     89,243,719         49,459,810
Enterprise Fund Revenues              384,261,540       169,882,423
TOTAL                                              $ 697,635,000       310,567,870

Mikel Ward also says that, “If Council approves this $178,368,437 & voters pass the $61 million Tuesday, our principal debt alone will be $937 million.  We’re estimating that would increase our annual debt service to around $95 million or about $450 per person every year. I’m concerned we can’t sustain this load.”

So how does Lubbock compare to other cities? I recieved this email from the people at SPARTAN this morning:

I compiled a spreadsheet that shows the bonded debt of all the cities in the South Plains, Panhandle, and Permian Basin.   There were a total of 57 cities that had total bonded debt of $1,914,381,388.00.  Lubbock had $992,316,719.00 of this debt which is $69,933,331.00 more debt than the other 56 cities combined.  The average debt per person of Lubbock residents is $4,566.35 while the average debt for the other 56 cities was $1,235.79 which means Lubbock has almost four times as much debt as the other 56 cities.

Amarillo has $588.95 of debt per person, Odessa has $1,997.90 per person, Abilene has $1,555.61 per person, and Midland has $2020.24 of debt person all of which are less than half of the Lubbock debt load per person.

I was told by a city official that the debt service for Lubbock was approximately $73,600,000.00 per year which amounts to about $339.00 for every man, woman, and child that lives in Lubbock.  This would amount to $1356.00 for a family of four.  This seems like a lot of money to pay for simply paying debt and interest each year.  If debt is so great how come all the other cities have about one-fourth the debt load per person that Lubbock has?

Should we be concerned? Should these figures play a part in your decision making at the polls? I think they should. I think we should be concerned. This is why I’ve been telling you that this isn’t the time to vote for luxury items like soccer fields and splash pads. At some point we will have to pay for all of us this.

More on this on Thursdays LFN.


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