Early voting started yesterday. You can early vote in the usual places — most United Supermarkets, the TTU Rec Center, and Lubbock City Hall. Early voting runs through October 30th, and Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.
What’s on the ballot this time? For City of Lubbock residents there are four bond issues, and for everyone there are eleven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Of note, there is an important amendment relating to Tier One universities and a few relating to property tax / appraisal reform.
Today I’m going to talk about the City of Lubbock bond issues.
I have obtained some documents from West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS) about the Lubbock bond issues that may be useful to you:
Map showing City recommended bond proposals (pdf)
Map showing gateway street fund expenditures (pdf)
Gateway funds summary (pdf)
I strongly recommend reading those documents.
It’s interesting to see what made it from the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to the ballot — and what didn’t make it. Example: Mahon Library needs serious repairs and upgrades, but was dropped from the bond proposal.
Also interesting is WHERE the proposals ended up — mostly in SW Lubbock. For Lubbockites, this is a familiar tune; developers guide the business of the City to their advantage. New properties (mostly outside the loop) get attention and money, while maintenance and upgrades get a pass. Deferred maintenance is how we end up with bumpy major thoroughfares and a library so moldy we have to close it.
Let’s have a look at the propositions.
Proposition 1: “The issuance of $43,085,000 general obligation bonds for street improvements”
I wish the language on this proposition in particular were more precise, and I wish it were split up into smaller, clearer projects on the ballot. Right now, the money from this proposition is earmarked $20,725,000 for 34th Street, $4,750,000 for traffic signal upgrades, and the rest for streets in SW Lubbock. I would prefer to vote for a 34th street issue separately from paving new streets in SW Lubbock, but somehow they got bundled together into a single bond issue that accounts for 2/3 of the value of all the bond proposals.
It feels like the City is saying, “We’ll fix 34th St for you, but you have to approve money for new streets in SW Lubbock first.”
Also, if this proposition passes, the work on the SW Lubbock streets will begin right away, while the work on 34th St is still 3-4 years away due to engineering and architectural studies that have to be done. With the vague wording of this proposition, I believe there’s a real possibility that the money will get eaten up by other street projects before 34th St is ready to go.
Additionally, Gateway Streets Fund money (40% of our franchise taxes and access line fees collected in Lubbock) could have been spent on 34th St, but it’s being spent elsewhere, again mostly in SW Lubbock.
Proposition 2: “The issuance of $7,500,000 general obligation bonds for firefighting facilities and equipment”
Who would vote against providing firefighting facilities? This is easily the least controversial bond proposal, and the new fire stations are in areas where response time could use improvement.
Proposition 3: “The issuance of $1,200,000 general obligation bonds for water recreation facilities”
This proposal is for four “splash pads,” which are little water parks where water shoots out of the ground and falls back down on a mat. Splash pads are basically cheap alternatives to pools. If you look at the placement of these splash pads, they suggest a line of thinking like this: “Sorry we filled in your swimming pools, North and East Lubbock. Have some splash pads!” (There is one in SW Lubbock as well, but two are in East Lubbock and one is in North Lubbock.) As far as I know, these will be the first such facilities in Lubbock.
Proposition 4: “The issuance of $9,000,000 general obligation bonds for soccer facilities”
By “soccer facilities,” this proposal is not referring to the existing Berl Huffman Complex, which needs serious repair. It refers to a new soccer complex at FM1585 and Milwaukee Ave.
Lubbock soccer has had a bumpy ride, not only because of the condition our soccer fields. For some reason, those on the political right in this town really decided that they hate soccer because it represents “communism” or some other bull.
My hope is that the new complex gets built, but can’t we maintain our existing soccer fields as well?
That’s all I’ve got about the Lubbock bond issues. Be sure to check out the WTOS documents I linked above. (WTOS will make a presentation about those documents this Sunday, October 25, at 12:15 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 4600 48th St.)
As always, the wonderful League of Women Voters voter guide is available online for free. Also, the Texas Legislative Council has an analysis of the amendments (pdf).Remember, you can take these (or any other literature you want) into to voting booth with you.
I’ll return with a post about the amendments tomorrow.