LUBBOCK, Texas — In this year’s midterm election, the City of Lubbock will ask voters to approve a $200 million bond to fund major street improvements.

The ballot measure comes one year after voters rejected the original bond the city proposed to fund street improvements in 2021.

City leaders and business groups argue Lubbock is long overdue for a street revamp — the last street bond was passed 13 years ago. Since then, Lubbock has outgrown many of its streets and the bond is the city’s way to catch us up to speed.

What is the road bond?

The city is not allowed to fund street improvements with debt, so they need citizens’ permission to issue a bond — essentially, to take out a loan — to finance the projects.

City Council designated a group of 12 citizens from every district to form a citizen’s advisory committee which drafted a plan for which streets to target. The council accepted their recommendations without changes.

“Citizens can have confidence that we are funding the right types of projects with the right type of funding,” Citizens Advisory Committee chair Heather Keister said.

“I think a bond issuance is appropriate. I think that it was driven based on actual needs and not wants. I don’t believe it is wasteful, and I feel there is an absolute guarantee we have that this money is going to be used to improve the roads in our city,” said Terisa Clark, a member of “Paving Lubbock’s Future,” a political action committee formed to campaign for the bond.

What will it change?

The bond includes funding to widen, expand, and repave dozens of arterial streets and residential roads.

Some of the major street segments included in the bond

Highlights include adding 3 lanes to segments of 114th Street, adding a sidewalk and lighting to 34th Street, and adding a lane to 82nd Street between I-27 and MLK.

Map of the streets included in the bond

“We have a lot of needs associated with growth, and safety should be the driver of those,” Keister said. “There are some needs associated with older areas of town, but the committee felt that maintenance was not an appropriate use of bond funds. we tried to balance that by committing to initiatives that the city has already made investments in such as paving the unpaved roads in older areas of town and rebuilding the neighborhood streets that are so far gone that maintenance is no longer effective.”

What’s the difference from the 2021 bond?

This bond addresses 22 miles of roadway for $200 million. The 2021 bond addressed 11 miles of roadway for $174.5 million. It costs $25 million more, but advocates argue the return on investment is higher.

“When you look at the project list, the amount of road that is being constructed is almost twice than the original package. It is a better use of our dollars. This city has not had a bond issuance in 13 years, but we’ve had a tremendous amount of growth. It’s clearly time,” Clark said.

The Citizen’s Advisory Committee also chose to not include Broadway in this bond package, citing disagreements over which segments to prioritize and concerns over garnering public support.

“Broadway was difficult,” Keister said. “It’s the project we talked more about than any other project. Our committee unanimously agreed something needs to be done with Broadway. However, one of the lessons learned was that it was a lightning rod in the last election. Based on the importance of this election, if this does not pass, the city is not allowed to debt fund these projects. the committee felt like this is too important to put to chance.”

Keister also said that although only $200 million made it into this bond package, her advisory committee identified $400 million worth of needs.

“These are not wants. These are clearly needs,” she said.

How much will it cost you?

The bond is $200 million and will increase the property tax rate by a maximum of 2.6 cents. That amounts to a total of $16 per year for the average Lubbock homeowner.

“Before any dollars are spent on anything else, this list [of streets] has to be completed. As a voter, I like those assurances,” Clark said.

“Any leftover money will be used for light projects requiring city council approval. There will be a whole extra step before anything is spent on a project that is not listed,” Keister said.

Clark has served on the city’s Audit and Investment Committee for nine years and addressed some concerns about the city’s debt.

“It’s important to understand that this is a bond issuance that will go through a series, meaning it is not issued all at once,” she said. “The full $200 million impact isn’t coming to the tax rate on day number one. At minimum, this will be 5 issuances.”

She said Lubbock has $1.8 billion in debt, but differentiated between the parts of the debt serviced by revenue and property taxes. She argued that Lubbock’s debt serviced by property taxes is only $250 million and lower per capita than other cities.

She also specified that this property tax increase will not impact those whose property tax rate is frozen, like homeowners over 65.

Who is behind the PAC?

City officials are not allowed to explicitly advocate for their own bond. So, a group of private citizens formed the political action committee “Paving Lubbock’s Future” to fund campaign efforts. Jared Robertson is the campaign treasurer.

The PAC’s campaign finance reports they have raised $93,250. $82,250 of that is from corporations or labor organizations. The PAC has only spent $415 — all for posts and ties for road signs.

The largest contributions include $25,000 from the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, $15,000 from the West Texas Homebuilders Association and $15,000 from the McDougal Family Partnership.

Mayor Tray Payne’s campaign also donated $2,500.

“We would love to do some TV… anything we can get our hands on. It’s just a budget issue right now,” Clark said. “Money is always slow to come in, so that’s kind of the dance right now.”

Keister said they have sent out mail advertisements targeting mail-in voters, in addition to creating a Facebook group and website. She also said they intend to air radio and TV ads.

“I think what you’ll see if a very targeted campaign,” she said. “You’ll start to see the evidence of all the behind the scenes work that has already been going on.”

How do I vote?

The deadline to register to vote was Oct. 11. Early voting starts on Oct. 24, and Election Day is Nov. 8.