LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock County Commissioners joined Lubbock City Council on the dais for their first joint meeting of the century Wednesday. The occasion was spurred by the combined $116 million coming to each entity through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.
“We feel like together we have a chance to make a big impact,” Mayor Dan Pope said.
“As the mayor and I have been talking, we’ve been kind of dreaming of things that we could do to together,” Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said. “Often times governments kind of operate in silos. We have our area of government, the city has their area, the school districts have their area. This gives us an opportunity to work together, and I think any government that works together works best.”
Lubbock County will receive over $60 million through the stimulus package, designed to help the area recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The City of Lubbock will receive about $56 million.
With over 82 percent of Lubbock County residents living within the City of Lubbock, the two entities believe a combined effort will serve their many common constituents best. They identified five initial areas to address through joint projects:
1. Public Health – Lubbock Health Department Director Katherine Wells outlined a plan to create a unified public health authority during the joint session.
The plan would direct both entities to maintain a full health department to coordinate public health efforts, support research, and provide immunizations and education programs. A new centralized authority would create a Board of Health with six members appointed by City Council and 3 members appointed by the Commissioners Court. Currently, all nine members are appointed by the city.
The plan also purchases a new building to serve as the new and improved headquarters of the Lubbock Health Department. The $11 million building is located at 2721 50th St., and will be purchased with the city contributing approximately 75 percent of the funds, and the county contributing the remaining 25 percent.
2. Mental Health Collaborative – StarCare Speciality Health System outlined a plan for the new Hope Center for Health and Wellbeing to serve as a resource for residents seeking mental health treatment.
3. Potential ARPA Funded Micro-Grant Programs, including but not limited to small business grants
4. Broadband Availability to Non-Served or Under-Served Areas
No decisions were made regarding how to spend these funds on Wednesday, yet city and county leaders indicated they will hold similar meetings in the future. Both entities have until the end of 2024 to allocate the funds.