Lubbock sued over stormwater rate structure

Lubbock sued over stormwater rate structure

From business and individual perspectives, a Dallas-based attorney filed a suit against the city Monday, claiming millions of dollars are being collected unlawfully. After several meetings to reconcile the issue on their own, attorney Terry Salazar stepped in to take charge.

"They're being overcharged," Salazar explained. "This lawsuit is being brought by Beck Steel as a business rate payer and by John Beck individually as an individual rate payer. We're asking the court to review the actions of the city and to agree with us that what the city has been with the stormwater drainage charges they've collected doesn't comply with the ordinance it passed last October and it's in violation of state law."

According to the lawsuit, John Beck initially reached out to the mayor and city council in April. He wrote out a letter describing his concerns with the new stormwater rate structure.

"The city didn't even have the courtesy of acknowledging receipt of the letter," Salazar said.

Not giving up the battle, Beck hired Salazar who then met with the city attorney this past June. The two sat down and discussed legal issues about stormwater rates and where the money ended up.

"I got a simple one-page response last Friday from the city attorney basically saying thanks for your interest but, the city, we have broad authority and we know what we're doing," Salazar said. "The rate payers are paying three and four times what they should be paying each month. The city is actually collecting millions of dollars more than is necessary to handle the costs of stormwater drainage and they're using it for other purposes."

"The city was created by the provisions of the state. Home rule meaning that the city can enact ordinance and do all the things within the jurisdiction of their city," FOX34 legal analyst Curtis Parrish explained. 

After that response, Salazar decided to let the courts decipher the stormwater rate issue. The plaintiffs want a permanent injunction which they say would stop the city from overcharging millions of dollars from Lubbock residents and businesses.

"The amount of money that they're charging should just be for servicing that property period, not for the entire city," Parrish said.

The city attorney has yet to see the lawsuit so could not comment. Before the court filing, city council was already tentatively scheduled to discuss potential changes to the storm water rate structure, during a work session August 13th.

"Something has got to spur the city council to take a hard look at what they're doing with their budget and the overcharging that they're doing with stormwater drainage," Salazar said.

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